Refugees

THE County Council has shown significant improvements in how it protects vulnerable children, according to an independent report published yesterday (Tuesday).

And this is despite the pressure of having to handle a large number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children arriving in Kent.

Ofsted carried out a three week inspection of the County Council’s children’s services in March and determined that it is now among the top 30 per cent in the country, with most aspects of care rated as ‘good’. In 2013, they were deemed just ‘adequate’.

At the beginning of March, 1,893 children were being looked after by the local authority. This is a reduction from 2,310 at March 2016.

Of this number, 72 per cent (1,353) live with foster families and 26 per cent (500) are unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

Three of the four categories (adoption performance, progress of care leavers and leadership management) inspected were rated as ‘good’ although it was accepted that services provided to children who need help and protection ‘requires improvement’ in certain areas.

These included issues with the Central Referral Unit’s decision-making, which was described as ‘not yet consistently good’, meaning ‘some children do not receive intervention as early as required.’

It added that the quality of some assessment from social workers was ‘not good, with some lacking analysis and not recognising all risk factors’, which has the knock-on effect of ‘children’s circumstances deteriorating’.

KCC Leader Cllr Paul Carter said: “Since our previous Ofsted inspection in 2013, we have worked extremely hard to get to this stage of which we can be proud.

“The welfare of children and young people across this county is the council’s top priority. We are not complacent and will continue to work hard and improve the lives of children in Kent.”

Cabinet Member for children Cllr Roger Gough said: “There is always more to be done and we will continue to build on this and address the improvements needed within the service to ensure children and families receive the commitment they