Tyne & Wear

Sunderland children's services criticised in new report

Sunderland Civic Centre Image copyright LDRS
Image caption Sunderland City Council handed over responsibility for services to Together for Children in 2017

The needs of at-risk children in Sunderland are still not being met, seven months after a report called for urgent action, Ofsted has warned.

In July, inspectors rated children's services in the city as inadequate for the second time in three years.

After a return visit last month they said a "lack of analysis" by social workers and poor management oversight remained.

Services provider Together for Children agreed improvements were still needed.

The report said: "The quality of the immediate social work response to children and families when requests are made for support remains inconsistent."

Inspectors added: "There was a lack of analysis by social workers of historical factors.

"This included cases involving domestic abuse and parental substance misuse and had resulted in repeat requests for social work assistance, as the issues had not been identified and support services had not been provided at the first contact."

'Fully committed'

Ofsted also said improvements were needed in record keeping and information from partner agencies like Northumbria Police sometimes lacked important information.

The report said some efforts had been made to act on previous recommendations, but concluded: "Management oversight has not sufficiently addressed the weaknesses in social work practice."

Together for Children's chief executive, Jill Colbert, said: "We are fully committed to supporting vulnerable children and young people in Sunderland.

"We recognise we still need to make improvements in a range of areas and have a detailed plan that's working."

In 2015, inadequate ratings across all areas of the service saw the government impose a Department for Education commissioner to oversee improvement.

It led to responsibility being handed over to the newly-created Together for Children voluntary trust in April 2017.

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