Jersey child social care still a 'long way to go'

Child in foetal position on sofa. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ofsted's report concluded that high staff turnover was a major issue needing to be solved

Child social care services in Jersey have improved but there is a "long way to go", according to a new report.

Ofsted said progress had been made from a "low base", since their 2018 inspection found vulnerable children were "not a priority".

It said emphasis on "child-centred work" was improving outcomes, but criticised support for frontline staff.

Children's Minister Sam Mezec said £20m a year was being made available to ensure changes are made.

The report also said the system remained "fragile" as a result of "instability" in the workface.

Inspectors found social workers lacked managerial "support or guidance" and oversight of individual cases was not "consistently effective".

Ofsted identified issues with supervision and a "lack of coherent procedures" as contributing to high staff turnover and "a lack of stability for children".

"Changes in social workers make it difficult for [children] to form relationships or to accept the help and support offered because they have a deep-seated mistrust that their social workers will remain with them," inspectors concluded.

Necessary improvements required by Ofsted:

  • Workforce stabilisation at all levels so "children experience less turnover and change"
  • Wider "system changes", including greater political commitment from the government
  • Better support for care leavers
  • Better emotional well-being support and education for children in care
  • Ensure staff are clear over expectations and standards of practice

Senator Mezec welcomed the report and said he was "determined to ensure continued progress".

"Given the positives that Ofsted has found, which were from a low base, now is the time to start thinking about services for children," he added.

Glenn Houston, the chairman of Jersey's Care Commission, agreed with Ofsted's view that "whole system change" was still required to ensure vulnerable children were protected and cared for.

He said children "expect and deserve" quality care services.

"Jersey has the potential to become one of the best performing child care systems in the British Isles," he said.

"It is up to those who are responsible for planning and delivering these services to make it happen."

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