Wakefield Council's children's services to be inspected by Ofsted after earlier visit revealed "significant weaknesses"

A vulnerable child. Stock image.
A vulnerable child. Stock image.

The country's watchdog for children's services will carry out a full inspection at Wakefield Council, four months after a focused Oftsed visit revealed that vulnerable children were being put at risk due to failings.

The authority has said it is "always ready to be held account" as it prepares for a two week inspection from Ofsted, starting today.

The last full inspection of its children's services was carried out in July 2016, when it was deemed to 'require improvement'.

Then in February, inspectors looked at the children's social care referral route. The watchdog said there were “significant weaknesses” in the quality of the authority’s services for children, with delays in allocating cases and seeing and assessing children at risk of harm. It said social workers with high caseloads did not have the capacity to meet the needs of children and families.

Beate Wagner, the council's corporate director for children and young people, who was appointed in March, said: “We are working very hard to deliver improvements as quickly as possible and we know that children will benefit from the additional management, social work and admin capacity we have already put in place. We also know that it is early days for some of the improvements we are making and expect Ofsted to acknowledge this.

“The inspection of the directorate will be thorough and in-depth and everyone involved will treat it as an opportunity to further support our improvement journey.

“We face significant challenges in some areas and will share the actions we are taking to address these concerns. The inspection also gives us the chance to demonstrate the changes we have made and showcase some of the great work that our dedicated teams deliver.

“We must be - and are - always ready and willing to be held to account, so that we can learn and improve. Ensuring our children and young people are happy, healthy and safe is an absolute priority for this council and we are determined to do everything possible to make this happen.”

On Wednesday, children's services and February's Ofsted visit will be on the agenda at a meeting of the council's overview and scrutiny committee for children, young people and skills.

Members will be presented with the authority's improvement plan of "immediate actions" for the next six months, including pledges to ensure all children’s social care cases are allocated, increase the number of social workers, and make sure no young person leaving care is placed in B&B accommodation.

The meeting will also hear from the chair of a new Corporate Parent Committee. According to a report to the meeting, the new committee will provide councillors with information on issues for children in care, helping them to fulfil their role as corporate parents’ for looked after youngsters.

The findings of the latest Ofsted inspection are expected to be published in July, the authority said.