The report, Excellence not Excuses, provides an overview of the inspection of social services to ethnic minority children and families and took place between April and November 1999. It found that major challenges are yet to be overcome with regard to the quality, quantity and suitability of services provided.
Ethnic minority families face many issues that white members of society do not such as, personal and institutional racism, the impact of immigration, nationality laws and separated families. These issues can be further compounded by other problems of parenting such as discipline and conflict between generations.
Following the Stephen Lawrence inquiry and the Macpherson report, there is an expectation that local authorities should be aware of these issues that ethnic minority families face.
- although anti-racist and equal opportunity policy and procedures existed, they were not consistently implemented or sustained
- workers often had difficulty in identifying child protection issues because they did not understand the needs of ethnic minority children and families
- processes for recruiting foster carers and care staff did not always recognise the changing needs of the population of children looked after
- reception and information services were not always welcoming or responsive enough to people for whom English was not their first language
- classification categories across councils were not consistent and information was not available or was not used for constructive service planning
John Hutton, health minister, commented: 'This report has flagged up some very serious issues that must be addressed by local authorities. Some examples of good practice were found during the inspection but not enough. These examples can now be
shared and used by local authorities in the development of their services. We need to see real improvement in services in these areas.'
Denise Platt, chief inspector of social services, added: 'We must all continue to strive for improvement so that we can be fully confident the services offered to ethnic minority children and their families truly meet their needs. Excellence not Excuses will be a useful tool for local authorities to use when determining how best
to develop their services.'
Inspections took place in the following councils: Southwark, Islington, Hammersmith & Fulham, Wolverhampton, Buckinghamshire, Leicestershire, Sheffield, and Liverpool.