A huge upheaval of children’s services was announced yesterday after a recent Ofsted inspection highlighted how vulnerable children did not receive the care that they required.
Assistant mayor for children and young people, Councillor Vi Dempster has stood down from her position, while the former head of the children’s services Elaine McHale has been dismissed.
The council says that it is imperative that action is taken immediately in order to continue with improvements at the necessary speed.
From January 13 2015, Oftsed spent four weeks examining the children’s social care services in Leicester and are due to publish the report later in the month.
Leicester City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, emphasised the need for change within children’s services. He says that a review of front-line social workers carried out in the summer of 2014 was poorly executed, leading to over 30 of these employees leaving in autumn. During this staff upheaval, vulnerable children were put at risk as they were not assigned the social workers they required.
Sir Peter reports that the council’s new director of children’s services and her assistant director, both of whom started their positions in October, recognised the problem and rapidly recruited additional members of staff so every child in need of a social worker had been assigned one.
According to the City Mayor, although change had been implemented, the serious failings that had occurred within the children’s services need to be addressed.
“Fortunately we were able to very swiftly deal with the most serious issues we uncovered, and under the leadership of the new director the service is already improving,” he said.
“However, a botched review and inadequate leadership have resulted in a situation where children have potentially been put at risk and this cannot be tolerated.”
Andy Keeling has replaced the former director in charge of children’s services until a new director can be appointed.
Peter Soulsby will henceforth be leading children and school services, and Cllr Vi Dempster will be leaving the council’s ruling executive immediately
“The full scale of the problems within the service were laid bare when we received Ofsted’s draft report last Tuesday (3 March), and this is unacceptable. I will now be taking personal responsibility for children’s social care and for ensuring that all members receive accurate information on this vital service which, it is clear, we have not had before,” said Peter Soulsby.
In order to oversee and monitor the progress of the council’s improvement plan, an Improvement Board is currently being set up, comprising of senior leaders from across the public sector and chaired by Tony Crane, director of children’s services in Cheshire East. The board will conduct its first meeting on April 23rd and the council’s improvement plan will be announced within the next two months.
The findings from the January Ofsted inspections are due to be published on Friday 20th March and will be also be available on the Leicester City Council website.