Council bosses in Dudley are now “focussed, ambitious and creative” according to a report which also says children’s services should remain under the authority’s control.
The report from national commissioner for children’s social care, Eleanor Brazil, says the council has brought “rigour and thoroughness” to improving children’s services since being rated inadequate by Ofsted earlier this year.
The Department for Education (DfE) has now accepted the commissioner’s recommendations and agreed that Dudley Council is best placed to continue running the service and drive forward improvement.
Following the report, the DfE ordered a further three-month report to ensure improvements to the service were swift. That report now recognises significant improvements with some areas in need of continued work.
In her report, Eleanor Brazil says, “It does not appear necessary or desirable at this time to remove service control from the council. There is strong leadership and management in place and in my view the council have the capacity and capability to deliver the changes needed to achieve the required standard.”
The report recommended the Department for Education supports the council in the improvements which are already underway. The council will also be welcoming a government appointed adviser to help continue the improvements at the authority.
Councillor Ian Cooper has welcomed the report but vowed to build on those improvements to ensure children have the best access to care and support. Councillor Ian Cooper, cabinet member for children’s services, said:
“These positive comments in the report from the commissioner for children’s social care are very welcome, but we are not complacent. Government policy is to remove children’s services from local authority control unless they can be convinced that improvements can be made, so this is a huge vote of confidence and we are pleased Ministers have recognised that we are the best people to take this forward.
“The report recognises the significant strides we have made through the new leadership at the council and I am pleased that the control of these vital services will remain at the council, subject to continuing improvement.
“We will also work tirelessly to address the key points for further improvement to make sure we continue with this momentum of change and ensure that children and young people have access to the very best services.
“I also look forward to working with the new government funded adviser to continue the already apparent improvements at the council.”
Since the Ofsted inspection at the start of this year a number of changes have already been implemented including a Children and Young Persons Alliance Board to drive forward change.
The new board will monitor and review the transformational masterplan which includes ensuring children and young people get help in a timely and co-ordinated way. Other activities of the board will include monitoring and reviewing new approaches to health and mental health services for children, school improvement, community resilience and a plan to improve the employment opportunities for young people.
The council has also appointed Liz Murphy as the new chairperson of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board. The council will be reporting regularly to Ofsted and the Department for Education over the next 12 months.