EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove will intervene if Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) fails to improve its performance in protecting vulnerable young people.
An improvement notice has been issued by the Department for Education following a damning OFSTED and Care Quality Commission report of Safeguarding and Looked After Children’s Services.
Inspectors raised concerns about the assessment of risk, the quality of multi-agency child protection planning and the variability of practice and management.
The council took a number of immediate steps in response to the findings.
There was a review of every file currently open on West Cheshire youngsters subject to a protection plan.
An Improvement Board was set up to monitor the work to upgrade standards by the professional agencies involved in safeguarding.
And CWaC hopes to benefit from the establishment of a shared Children and Young People’s Service with Halton Council which has proven expertise in achieving excellent outcomes in children’s social care.
The Department for Education will review progress in October and again in April 2012.
It warns that failure to comply with the Improvement Notice may lead to the Secretary of State using his powers of intervention ‘to secure necessary and rapid improvements’.
A complete restructure is taking place in children’s services as a whole which has seen 54 staff volunteer for redundancy and compulsory job losses are not ruled out. However, areas such as ‘child protection’ and ‘family and children’ are being bolstered following the Ofsted report.