Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Northamptonshire Children’s Services – in deep trouble

The BBC reports that the inspectorate, Ofsted, has condemned Northamptonshire’s children’s services as a "potential risk" and describes children’s social workers at the effectively bankrupt council as "overwhelmed" and "drowning". Services are said to have "significantly declined" since 2016.

You don’t need to be a genius to know why services in Northamptonshire are in deep trouble. The council has run out of cash and is seeking ways of further reducing spending on services which have already been cut to the bone. Nobody can provide good services to looked after children or conduct thorough enquiries into child protection concerns if there aren’t the resources to do the job. 

The BBC article mentions social work caseloads of between 30 and 50 children per social worker. If that is correct, it is far too high. Ten to fifteen cases is more the mark.

Ofsted inspectors must know that resources are the problem. Councillors and senior managers in Northamptonshire must know that too. Government ministers must know that – surely they must know that!

Carrying on trying to provide adequate services with inadequate budgets will result in only one thing: children unnecessarily put at risk or deprived of adequate care. 

Central government now needs to stump up the cash to provide proper children’s services in Northamptonshire, pending whatever reorganisation of the council eventually emerges. Wait-and-see is not an option. Vulnerable children and young people in Northamptonshire need action now.