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Concern over children's care in Cambridgeshire

By Josh Thomas | Local Democracy Reporter

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Lucy Nethsingha. Picture: Keith Heppell

There are concerns some of the county's most vulnerable children are not getting the help they need.

Recruitment and retention of staff for Cambridgeshire County Council’s children’s services is at the heart of the issue. The problem was raised in a recent report by Ofsted, which in a letter to the council said that high caseloads may be preventing some children from getting the right help.

The letter says: “Recruitment of suitably qualified and experienced social work staff needs to be more efficient to reduce the unacceptably high caseloads in some areas.

“When caseloads are too high, children are less likely to receive a service appropriate to their needs, and social workers may struggle to provide consistently good quality support to children and families.”

The letter acknowledged that leaders and managers know their services well, but highlighted that changes need to be made.

Last Wednesday (May 23) the county’s young people committee endorsed changes to the way safeguarding services are delivered after considering a council report which said that Ofsted’s findings helped show areas where children’s services should be improved.

Changes include developing a countywide specialist service for children in care of all ages, young people leaving care and asylum-seeking young people, and to develop a separate service for fostering.

Committee chairman Cllr Simon Bywater said Cambridgeshire also had to do more to entice and keep good staff in the area to improve services.

“We need to make sure we look after our staff and they are happy in the workplace,” he said. “I think the majority of them are.”

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, Lib Dem leader on the county council, said the situation was “deeply worrying”.

“Children’s services seem to have been in a constant state of reorganisation. The Ofsted report talks about how ‘some children are not seen regularly enough and they experience too many changes of social worker’.”


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