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REPORT REVEALS FAILURES TO RESPOND TO FAMILIES IN NEED

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Services for children and families in need are being badly managed, ...
Services for children and families in need are being badly managed,

says a report published by the Social Services Inspectorate.

An inspection of eight social services departments found poor

standards of assessments, planning and decision making. The report -

`Responding to Families In Need' - says inspectors found most

departments were developing a range of support services. But it was

often not clear who would be eligible for help, and inconsistent and

arbitrary decisions were being made.

Herbert Laming, chief inspector, has written to directors of

social services emphasising his concerns. He said:

'The findings of this inspection raise serious questions about the

way services are managed and organised. The report draws a worrying

picture. Managers continue to think about child protection and do

not consider how they can give support. Other agencies and families

call for help only when they believe there is a crisis, unaware that

support should be there for children and families in need. Social

services should be more open and positive about how they can help.

'Our inspectors found examples of very good practice but only one of

the eight departments performed adequately against the standards we

set. In all the other councils the quality of practice was very

inconsistent. Social services departments should review their

services for children and families in need by using the checklist of

questions in our report.'

The report says managers should: define who is eligible to receive

help and ensure staff understand the criteria; plan effectively with

other departments and agencies; gather key information about service

demand and delivery; set goals for assessment, planning and decision

making; and provide information to local people on the range of

services children and families in need can expect to receive.

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