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Barking and Dagenham's children's services require improvement, inspectors rule

PUBLISHED: 14:00 02 April 2019

Barking and Dagenham Council's children's services were assessed by Ofsted. Picture: Ken Mears

Barking and Dagenham Council's children's services were assessed by Ofsted. Picture: Ken Mears

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Improvement is required within Barking and Dagenham's children's services, inspectors have found.

A report by education watchdog Ofsted, released on Monday, found that “timely access to services for children experiencing mental health problems was poor”, and that “health provision for care leavers is a significant concern”.

It graded the council in the “requires improvement” category for all three assessment areas, as well as an overall rating – the second lowest of four possible ratings.

Inspectors who assessed the council’s services in February and March found that there were several areas where the council needed to improve, including the provision of help for children living with domestic abuse or in neglectful circumstances, and the quality and impact of early help services.

The council’s children’s services had attained the same rating at their previous inspection in 2014, however inspectors found that some improvements had been made.

The report noted: “The recently appointed director of children’s services (DCS), together with her senior team, has appropriately prioritised services for children most at risk.

“Strong and effective senior leadership is resulting in tangible improvements to both the quality and impact of social work practice.”

In one of the three assessment categories - experiences and progress of children who need help and protection – the report found “referral pathways for homeless 16 and 17-year-olds are not understood by partners, resulting in an inconsistent response”.

But it did find that “the large majority of child protection strategy meetings include key agencies and are held within 24 hours of the referral”.

A council spokesman said: “We are encouraged that Ofsted can see we are making strong progress in a number of areas on a trajectory to good.

“The council is already addressing all of the issues raised as a matter of priority.

“The report has shown the extent of work that is needed, and while there is more to do, much of the work is already under way.”

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