Birmingham Children's Services Inadequate Again

Children's services at Birmingham City council have been rated inadequate again, extending more than 10 years failure to protect the most vulnerable youngsters from serious risk of harm, a report said today.

Ofsted branded the Birmingham City Council-run department inadequate overall and revealed that as of April more than 400 children in need had still not had their case looked at by a social worker.

The local authority has been criticised, with several other child protection public bodies, over failures to safeguard children in several recent high-profile cases of child deaths in Birmingham, including those of two-year-old Keanu Williams in 2011 and seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq (pictured) in 2008.

The inspection also revealed that between October 2013 and January 2014 the council chose 'based on a lack of social worker capacity' to simply close the cases of 145 children in need files 'without them having been risk assessed'.

The council's bosses, whose children's services department has been rated inadequate since 2008, also revealed it has no idea of its potential exposure to being sued as a result of consistently failing to carry out its legal duties to children and young people over at least the last five years.

Sir Albert Bore, council leader, said Birmingham accepted the report's findings and knew in advance its outcome but said there would be no 'knee-jerk' response, and instead was focusing on 'breaking the cycle' of failure.

The council's bosses have admitted it has struggled to retain and recruit social workers, with case work spiralling out of control, leading to falling standards - all added to by what the Ofsted report said was ``generally poor'' management oversight of case workers.

In a statement to Heart Birmingham City Council said: “We must never forget that the welfare of children is at the heart of everything we do and here in Birmingham we have a group of people who are absolutely committed to ensuring we do our best for all our children and young people. When we talk about change and improvement it is important that we always remember this.

“We have been very open about the state of children’s services in Birmingham and this inadequate rating is what we expected.

“The report’s details build on the issues we had recognised ourselves as inadequate practice and which we shared with Ofsted on their arrival. This is welcome but we will not let the focus on current performance distract us from the tailor-made approach to improvement put in place by the Department for Education; an approach set out by the DfE during this latest Ofsted inspection."