Council fell well below national standards, according to a report
The report by the Social Services Inspectorate says the council needs
judged at risk but without allocated social workers, the number of
children in care, and the lack of early help for troubled families.
Kingston upon Hull council has prepared an action plan. SSI
inspectors caution that the size of the task is immense and will
require significant commitment to turn around.
Inspectors found that the council's social services failed to meet
standards on child protection and the placement of children in care:
- there were 58 unallocated child care cases, including 13
children whose names were on the child protection register and
14 children who were subject to care orders. And inspectors
found no plans to address these problems;
- children were left adrift in the care system. Often steps were
not taken to rehabilitate them safely into families or to secure
adequate alternative care, for example, for adoption. Too many
children had their placements changed and disrupted.
Other findings from the inspection which took place in November last
year are that the council has three times the national average of
children looked after and three times the national average of children on the child protection register; and over 50 per cent of children
living in residential care were under 12 years of age (77 children),
with a high number of all children looked after placed outside of
Averil Nottage, deputy chief inspector, said:
'Urgent action should be taken by Kingston upon Hull council to grip
a number of issues, including unallocated child care cases; the lack
of early intervention for troubled children and families; the
`drifting' of children in the care system; and long term and
inherited deficiencies in strategic planning.
'Our inspectors came across some sound professional work by
individual members of staff striving to do their best. But we need to
see a corporate commitment to drive through change in the council's
essential services for children in care. Herbert Laming, the
chief inspector, has met senior representatives from the council to
express our concerns, which were accepted. We welcome the council's
action plan and will keep a close watch on its implementation.'
The report also says inspectors found insufficient emphasis on the
health and education of children, with local agencies not being told
systematically of placements for children or of plans for their care.
Individual staff and managers were at risk of being overwhelmed by
the weight of demands placed on them and there was a real danger that
children would be at risk or their needs would go unmet.
The report puts forward 28 recommendations on issues such as policy,
management, referrals, assessment, planning and monitoring.
1. The report - 'Inspection of Planning and Decision-making for
Looked After Children in Kingston upon Hull' - is available from
SSI's North East Inspection Group, 16th Floor, West Riding House, 67
Albion Street, Leeds, LS1 5AA; or telephone 0113 243 0906.
2. The Kingston upon Hull inspection was one of ten inspections
undertaken in a sample of local authorities in England. The
inspection examined the policy and strategic framework for services
to children, the relevant management arrangements, the quality of
professional practice and the outcomes for children and their
families. Standards set by the SSI for evaluating services are drawn
from legislation, national guidance, research and good practice. The
findings from the ten inspections will provide material for a
national overview report in the summer of 1998.
3. Kingston-upon-Hull became a new unitary local authority following
the abolition of the former Humberside CC on 1 April
1996. The city scores highly on indicators of deprivation and
disadvantage. Its population is one of the poorest in England with
significantly higher than average levels of unemployment.
Twenty-eight per cent of Kingston-upon-Hull children live in five of the most deprived wards in the Yorkshire region. One housing estate is
considered to be the biggest in Europe.