Four years on from a damming report into Children Services and months on from attempts to block the publication of a serious case review RMBC are judged in a recent inspection to be providing Children Services that just meets the minimum of requirements.
An unannounced inspection conducted in July 2012 by Ofsted found areas still requiring action.
Two of the many issues in the July report stand out, this one is in relation to the serious case review into the tragic death of Laura Wilson, the very same report RMBC tried to hide on the grounds of maintaining community cohesion.
“The findings from the very recently published serious case review have been effectively shared with team managers but not across the partnership or with social workers, although there are plans to do so. As a result, most practitioners are not yet fully aware of the learning from the review and so have not been able to use it to influence their practice.”
What is concerning about this point is that for whatever reason, incompetence, do not care, not my kids, not a priority for Cllr Stone, Martin Kimber, Cllr Wright and Cllr Lakin, frontline staff, Social Workers and NHS staff the very ones interacting with vulnerable children and families have not been made aware of the report’s findings so are unable to translate the recommendations into practice.
Or could this be a result of the involvement of Cllr Hoddinott putting a gag on anything to do with child exploitation, grooming and the report?
The second significant finding relates to the case load of Social Workers.
“However, case loads in some teams and for some workers are too high and this impacts on their ability to progress lower priority work (which includes children with significant needs and vulnerabilities), work reflectively and attend to their own professional development”
In each and every case involving the abuse and death of a child, e.g. Baby P case there is always a direct link to the unmanageable caseload of Social Workers, Cllr Stone, Martin Kimber, Cllr Wright and Cllr Lakin know this and have failed to address the matter, compounding the gravity of this situation is that the rest of the Labour Group know that there is a direct correlation between a high caseload and the abuse and death of a child.
The inspection in 2009 found the children’s department then headed by Cllr Shaun Wright to have serious problems; the problems and mess left by Cllr Shaun Wright were so deep rooted that four years on the service has not moved beyond adequate, it seems that there is a long way to go if Children Services now headed by Cllr Paul Lakin are to improve.
Who is responsible and accountable for failing to provide Rotherham with outstanding children services and who is responsible and accountable for failing to inform the public on how to protect their children from individuals and gangs intent on grooming vulnerable children?
The list includes.
Leader of the Council Cllr Roger Stone, Cllr Stone has the authority to make changes, focus on the issues and make a real difference, instead what we get is serial junketing, a couldn’t care less attitude and a block on anyone trying to discuss the issue of grooming with the public.
Chief Executive Martin Kimber, fully supportive of Cllr Stone and his stance, Mr Kimber sits back while under pressure Social Workers struggle to manage their caseloads, what can we expect from someone who is only marking time until his golden goodbye.
Cllr Shaun Wright, the previous portfolio lead for Children Services who allowed children to be put at serious risk of harm and neglect, he now has the audacity to stand for PCC. His public silence on the issue of grooming is deafening, I can`t wait to see how he defends his position with the media when the time comes, it will be a big vote loser.
Cllr Paul Lakin, current cabinet lead for Children Services is already starting to raise concerns, he does not seem to be on top of his brief, lacks gravitas and is prepared to allow parents to be kept in the dark on the signs of grooming and what they can do to prevent it.
Cllr Emma Hoddinott, this is possibly the most unpleasant aspect. Cllr Hoddinott ran straight to Cllr Stone to tell tales about her colleagues speaking out about grooming, she has now gagged any public debate on the issue. There will be another serious grooming incident involving a child in Rotherham and Cllr Hoddiniott will have some explaining to do on why she stopped the public being briefed.
The gang of four are not alone; we still have the silence of the lambs:
Astbury, Dalton, Andrews, Donaldson, Ellis, Beaumont, Clark, Burton, Godfrey, Falvey, Hamilton, Johnston, Lelliott, Pitchley, Russell(x2), McNeeley, Whysall, Havenhand, Sims and Rushforth.
Just what will it take for these individuals to speak up for children in Rotherham?
From the BBC: Barnsley and Rotherham child services told to improve.
From Ofsted: Rotherham Inspection Reports