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 -
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.