TWO years after being told that Children’s Services were ‘Inadequate’ Ofsted has delivered the news that those services still ‘Require Improvement’.
Medway Labour is pleased to see that progress has been made across the board and recognise the report as a step in the right direction.
But with Ofsted claiming that ‘Further work is now needed to ensure that services for families are consistently well coordinated and delivered’ it is clear that Children’s Services in Medway are simply not good enough.
Councillor Adam Price, Medway Labour group spokesperson for Education and Children’s Services, believes that much more needs to be done: “This report comes as a welcome improvement for Children’s Services – particularly in social care.
“The report highlights a lack of consistency in service delivery. There is a long way to go to achieve the standards that the families and children of Medway deserve.
“Medway Labour is calling for the council to prioritise ensuring that every child and every family receive a decent service.”
One positive aspect of the report is its praise for the Corporate Parenting Board which it describes as ‘a strong and effective forum for challenging and improving the experiences of children looked after.’
Councillor Pat Cooper, a member of the Corporate Parenting Board, was full of praise for its work: “It’s good to see recognition for the cross-party corporate parenting board. It was Labour councillors who championed the involvement of children in care so that council members could hear from those children and ensure that their voices could be heard.”
With the improvements that have been made Medway Labour group is keen to ensure that the council does not take their foot off the pedal in order to ensure that the progress can continue.
And Councillor Teresa Murray, Medway group deputy leader and spokesperson for Health and Adult Services, believes that further improvement can only be made with further investment: “The report demonstrates a clear need for further investment across the council and its partners because it’s vital that all services work together to safeguard Medway’s vulnerable children.
“The truth is that this goes beyond just Children’s Services because poor housing, a lack of employment and substance abuse all contribute to the neglect of children. These are all preventable factors.”
But concerns remain over the council’s ability to provide the necessary investment as Medway Labour group leader, Councillor Vince Maple, highlighted: “This report comes just a day after the Autumn Statement and 29% cuts to local government budgets.
“I, of course, welcome the improvements that have been made but it is going to take a great deal of investment to get us to where we need to be. And with the 29% cuts to local government it is going to make it extremely difficult to even maintain the current standards of Children’s Services let alone make improvements.
“The improvements are pleasing but I am extremely concerned that they will not be sustainable under the current government.”
This Ofsted report does come as a welcome improvement in standards and that is extremely pleasing to see but it also sends a clear message to the Conservative led council that they require improvement.
Medway Labour will always support and, indeed, fight to ensure that action is taken in order to continue to improve standards because the truth is clear:
Whilst this is a step in the right direction standards are still not good enough and the vulnerable children of Medway are still being badly let down.