Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee has today responded to an OFSTED report flagging up serious concerns about some areas of children’s services in Cambridgeshire.
The OFSTED report expresses particular concerns about high staff turnover, and very high case-loads, leading to delays in assessing children who may be at risk of harm.
"Children’s services in Cambridgeshire seem to have been in a constant state of re-organisation" says Liberal Democrat leader Lucy Nethsingha.
"With children’s social care services facing an overspend of over £10 million, and numbers for children in care still rising this report is deeply worrying. The OFSTED report talks about how 'some children are not seen regularly enough and they experience too many changes of social worker'."
"These are the most vulnerable children and Cambridgeshire’s children’s services are not doing well enough in making sure they get the help they need when they need it."
A second report from Oxford Brooks University, made available to the committee, emphasised how failure to act quickly enough to protect children in Cambridgeshire was leading to children coming into the care system after long periods of neglect or harm. The report emphasised that this was not only very damaging for the children themselves, but also made them more difficult to place with foster families or for adoption.
"The failure to identify children at risk of serious harm early, and to act quickly, is not only failing Cambridgeshire’s children, but also adding costs to the Council, as children are then remaining in expensive foster placements for longer", said Councillor Nethsingha.
"Council policies such as closing Children’s Centres are likely to make this already bad situation significantly worse, as more vulnerable children slip through the net."