Children’s Homes Found to be Inadequate after Inspection

FOUR of Birmingham’s 23 children’s homes have been judged as inadequate following a series of “strict” official inspections.

Birmingham City bosses are insisting that reports of four of the city’s children’s home judged inadequate does not mean children are in any danger.

Overall ratings of inadequacy six times were giving by Ofsted inspectors after visiting 68 of the homes for troubled or disabled youngsters.

Since the strict official inspections one of the home’s that has given cause for grave concern with a high number of absconding and violent youngsters is now having its future reviewed.

Cabinet member for children, young people and families Councilor Les Lawrence said “large institutions should be replaced with small homes based in three or four-bed roomed houses”.

He further added that “19 beds in one institution might not be the best way of accommodating troubled young people, as anyone who has been in the forces and shared a room with 20 colleagues would understand”.

Larger Homes are Bad

It is felt that troubled youngsters who are housed in larger homes are less likely to improve their behaviour.

A higher than average staff sickness absence levels caused by working in stressful environments was also noted in the report and is a cause for concern.

Finding small three and four bed roomed houses is not so much a problem as is petitions and protests from neighbours who do not wish to have children’s homes for violent youngsters on their own doorstep.

Out of the five homes that were inspected in Birmingham, two have since been reassessed as satisfactory, one has resolved staffing issues, one is due to be refurbished and one is still under review.

Eight Councils Judged as Inadequate for Keeping Children Safe

When the annual performance assessment (APAs) was published by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) last month it judged eight councils as “inadequate” for keeping children safe. These figures have doubled in just one year and risen from zero in 2007.

Commenting on the APAs, Chief Inspector Christine Gilbert said: "Many local authorities continue to work hard to improve the services that they provide for children and young people”.

"However, I am concerned that some services provided for the most vulnerable children and young people remain inadequate. Where this has been found in the APA, we have clearly identified where improvements are needed.

"We would expect those working in children's services to address these issues as an urgent priority with support from their local government office. We will be inspecting next year to ensure they make good progress."

Haringey Council

When it was discovered last year that APA rated children’s services at Haringey Council in North London “good”, Ofsted came under a barrage of fire reference the authority at the centre of the Baby P scandal.

The now-notorious council was giving a grading of ‘inadequate’ for children’s services in the latest report, along with Doncaster, Milton Keynes and Surry.

A new inspection system will be starting this year called the Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA) and APAs are to be scrapped.

Stronger focus on frontline practice will be put into force and annual unannounced inspection visits will take place in every local authority and all concerns about children’s safety and welfare will be brought to the forefront.