In a month that saw the best of Children’s Services rewarded at the LGC Awards ceremony in London, a critical report has condemned Stoke-on-Trent’s City Council for not protecting vulnerable children.

Children are being failed

A damning report from Ofsted said there had been a corporate failure by Stoke-on-Trent Council to address serious and widespread problems. The report said the council had seriously declined since the last Ofsted inspection in 2015 and rated Children’s Services as inadequate.

In response, the authority said it was taking immediate action to make improvements and had appointed a new management team.

Ruth Smeeth, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, said: “The people responsible for keeping our kids safe have failed us, they’ve failed our city, and they’ve failed our families”.

The main findings of the report were:

  • Too many children came into care in crisis
  • Too many waited too long to be reunited with their families
  • There were insufficient and unregulated fostering placements
  • Social workers’ caseloads were too high, averaging more than 25 children
  • Youngsters were experiencing serious and widespread delays

City Independent councillor Janine Bridges, lead member for Children’s Services, reassured families that the council was determined to drive the changes that were needed.

“We have to get the foundations right so that we can deliver a service that is fit for the needs of young people today”, she said.

A National Audit Office report has highlighted the huge rise in demand for England’s child-protection services since 2010. The government has been accused of an appalling lack of understanding of the growing pressure.

Hartlepool scoops award

Hartlepool council impressed the panel at the LGC Awards 2019 with their commitment to young people’s voices. The council won the Children’s Services category by demonstrating innovation, partnership working and ambition.

AlphaBiolabs sponsored the Children’s Services 2019 category and Managing Director, David Thomas, presented the trophy to the winning team.

“We have been working with local authorities for almost 15 years and are proud to be sponsoring the LGC Awards. The recognition of hard-working child protection teams across the UK is essential and underlines our commitment to this important service”, said Mr Thomas.

Other shortlisted councils for the award were: Central Bedfordshire Council, Cornwall Council, Ealing Council Children’s Services, East Renfrewshire Council, East Renfrewshire HSCP children’s services, North Lincolnshire Council and West Sussex CC. For information on any of AlphaBiolabs’ local authority testing services, call us on 0333 600 1300 or email