Improvement is too slow at Gloucestershire's Children's Services, leaving vulnerable at risk
November 22, 2018
It’s the most vulnerable who are hit hardest by inadequate services and funding cuts - as is made clear by the failings of Gloucestershire's Children's Services.
It’s nine months since Ofsted found serious failings in Gloucestershire’s Children’s Services, the team which is supposed to protect the children most at risk, prompting the county council to embark on a major overhaul of provision. But it seems to be failing to get a grip of the situation.
The September update from Ofsted found that children continue to be exposed to risk, and that the failings identified have not been addressed quickly enough.
Ofsted reported; “Some children remain in situations of unassessed risk for too long and others experience chronic neglect or continue to be exposed to risk without effective action being taken to protect them.”
And then this week details were revealed of a case where a grandmother found herself pitted against Gloucestershire County Council’s legal team in her bid to care for her grandchild instead of see them adopted.
She had to cover her own legal bill to fight the council in court and prove that she could care for the child, a process which left her “utterly exhausted and shattered by the lack of kindness and understanding,” and a senior family court judge criticised Gloucestershire County Council for trying to prevent reporting of the proceedings.
There should be no higher priority than protecting vulnerable children. The numbers of children needing social services support has soared in recent years, just at a time when services are being cut to the bone, with Children’s Centres across the district now closed. Time and again, it is the most vulnerable who are hit hardest, whether that’s the grandmother who has to spend her savings in a legal fight for the future of her grandchild, or the child who is left for too long in a situation where they are at risk. Gloucestershire County Council is failing where it matters most. It’s time for major rethink in how we provide local services. And this is evidence, yet again, that austerity hits the most vulnerable and that this week’s budget should make investment in public services a priority.