28 June 2016
It has been a week of facts and figures and we are looking at some in depth so hold on to your seats and keep going to the end where you will find a link to some useful E-safety resources.
TWO LOCAL authorities – Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea have been judged as outstanding under an Ofsted inspection framework covering children in need, looked after children and care leavers in England. A quarter of the country’s inspected services were judged inadequate – the lowest judgement level – according to Ofsted’s summary of its inspections of children’s services from November 2013 to March this year.
The report relates to inspections in 87 local authorities covering two-thirds of vulnerable children and Ofsted plans to examine all 152 children’s services by the end of 2017 under its ‘single inspection framework’. This evaluates the services in three areas: children in care; children in need; and leadership and governance. For children in care it looked at a local authority’s adoption performance – which was the strongest performing area – and the experiences and progress of care leavers – in which 43 local authorities required improvement and 12 were deemed inadequate. Two local authorities – Birmingham and Sunderland – were inadequate in all judgement areas.
The majority of independent fostering agencies had also been inspected with 85% judged good or outstanding. The data also covers other regulated providers including children’s homes which are inspected annually with 79% classed as good or better by March 2016 – an improvement over the previous two years.
MEANWHILE THE number of children in the UK child protection system has increased by nearly a quarter over the last five years according to the NSPCC’s fourth annual state of the nation report How Safe are our Children?
The report brings together child protection data from the four nations of the UK using 20 indicators. These include figures for suicides, murders, sexual abuse offences, referrals to and within social services, children in need, and contact with Childline and the NSPCC’s own helpline which received 16,000 calls from adults concerned about neglected children.
Two indicators specifically cover looked after children – one is the number of children in care due to neglect or abuse which is only available for England and Wales. This increased by 16% between 2011 and 2015 across the two countries. The second is the percentage of children in care who had three or more placements in one year – in March 2015 this was 10.1% in England, 9.1% in Wales, 8.4% in Northern Ireland and 6% in Scotland. The percentages are falling across the UK as a whole the report says.
AND FINALLY on the figures front almost three quarters of looked after school leavers in Scotland left school at the earliest point they could last year compared to 27% of the general population according to the Scottish Government’s report into the educational outcomes of looked after children. Four in ten of looked after school leavers went on to further education but the report noted that subsequently: “There is a consistently large drop-off in the proportion of looked after young people sustaining a place in further education.”
THE GUARDIAN features the highs and lows of mum and baby foster carer Yvette. In the same newspaper Louise Tickle calls for greater transparency in the reporting of family court cases following the conviction of Ben Butler for the killing of his six-year old daughter Ellie. Current reporting restrictions means that many of the processes followed by local authorities are not subject to public scrutiny she argues.
FOLLOWING THE EU referendum vote the International Foster Care Organisations retweeted an article on the implications of Brexit for children. “The UK’s exit from the EU could be catastrophic for children in terms of an inevitable and significant reduction in the economic, legal, and procedural provision currently available to them.”
LYNN FINDLAY, trainer and social worker at Foster Care Co-operative offers a review of the MOMO app that enables children to feed back on their social care, and resources to help us understand text speak in her blog on E-safety.