05 March 2014

An independent assessment of Northamptonshire’s child protection services has backed the county’s plans for making children safer and highlighted cross-party political support for the improvement programme.

The independent chair of the county’s improvement board, Christine Davies, has written to children’s minister Edward Timpson in her first quarterly progress report. It will be discussed at a meeting of Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet next week.

"Impressed with energy, commitment and honesty"

In her letter, Mrs Davies states: “Very considerable challenges remain. I am, however, impressed with the energy, commitment and honesty of the relatively new Director of Children’s Services, who, working with his refreshed Senior Management Team, will address the priorities set out in the Direction Notice and the revised Improvement Plan.

“The active support of the Council Chief Executive, cross-party political support and the Improvement Board will empower the team to do what it needs to, in securing progress.

“Focused leadership and management are now beginning to show results. Unallocated cases within the system have significantly reduced and all Child Protection and LAC cases have been audited, with clear plans now in place addressing the issues to improve outcomes for children.

“I am confident that this revised focus will allow for immediate and sustained progress to be made.”

Increase in child protection cases

The letter outlines measures that have been taken by the council and other organisations since Ofsted rated the county’s child protection system inadequate. These measures have been taken against a backdrop of a 30 per cent increase in child protection cases and numbers of children in care.

The letter refers to three recent Ofsted inspections of residential children’s homes, all of which have resulted in a good rating, with some outstanding features.

Mrs Davies also calls on the government to hold a national debate about the shortage of front line social workers, team leaders and middle managers resulting in increasing competition between local authorities.

The letter is Item 9 on the cabinet agenda next Tuesday.