Landmark reforms to children’s services will mean failing services in local authorities will be taken over by high-performing authorities, teams of experts and charities.
The new plans will mirror the government approach taken with failing schools.
Children’s services in local authorities which persistently fail will be taken over immediately – and sharper triggers will be put in place so an emergency Ofsted inspection can be ordered where there are concerns about a local authority’s performance.
This could include complaints from whistleblowers or evidence of poor leadership.
High-performing local authorities, experts in child protection and charities will be brought in to turn children’s services around, by acting as sponsors and forming “trusts” to take over authorities which are judged to be failing.
More than £100 million will be invested in attracting more high-calibre graduates into social work.
In the past, children’s services were taken over on an ad hoc basis with no clear national response to failure.
For the first time, a formalised academy-style system will be put in place, so that any local authority judged inadequate by Ofsted will have to show significant improvement within six months or be taken over.
If any local authority’s children’s services fail to improve within six months of their Ofsted inspection, a new service leader (Commissioner) will be put in place and high-performing local authorities, experts in child protection and charities will be brought in.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“Children’s services support the most vulnerable children in our society. They are in our care – we, the state, are their parents and we are failing them.
“It is our duty to put this right – to say to poorly performing local authorities, ‘improve, or be taken over’.
“We will not stand by while children are let down by inadequate social services.
“This will be one of the big landmark reforms of this Parliament, as transformative as what we did in education in the last.
“And it shows how serious we are about confronting state failure and tackling some the biggest social problems in our country.
“Together we will make sure that not a single child is left behind.”
Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan is to chair a roundtable in the New Year with local authorities and major charities such as Barnardos and the NSPCC.
Ms Morgan said:
“Every single day our most vulnerable children and young people are supported by dedicated, expert social workers – support that changes their lives for the better.
“But in too many towns and cities across the country, children in the most desperate of circumstances are being allowed to slip through the cracks.
“This simply isn’t good enough – and every single child failed is a child too many.”
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