Outside experts could take over crisis-hit children’s services in Lancashire

Photo Ian Robinson
County Hall at Night

Photo Ian Robinson County Hall at Night

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Lancashire County Council is waiting to hear whether outside experts will be brought in to run part of its crisis hit children’s service.

The Council submitted an improvement plan to central government on Saturday which is intended to answer serious concerns raised by Government inspectors OFSTED who made a surprise inspection last September.

The watchdog judged the council’s Children’s Services “inadequate”. This in turn has triggered a wide ranging review of the service’s shortcomings.

A new Director of Children’s Services Linda Clegg is now being brought in. She is currently Director of Children’s Services for Blackburn with Darwen Council and will job sharing, carrying out both roles.

A report to councillors meeting tomorrow notes: “Linda will bring additional leadership capacity and extensive expertise around children’s social care and will lead the improvement agenda.”

The OFSTED inspection investigated the quality of care given to youngsters in need of help and protection. The council says now all 2,345 current “child in need” cases have been reviewed.

The structure and approach of the council’s Early Help and Wellbeing Service is also to be changed. Senior staff have attended an improvement seminar and Government improvement adviser Tony Crane is due to report back to Government minister Edward Timpson, Minister for Children and Families on the council’s ability to improve its children’s services. The council could be served with an improvement notice or direct intervention could see parts of the service run by an external organisation or trust.