Rotherham Council's children's services 'transformed' in wake of child sexual exploitation scandal

Rotherham Council's children's services have been assessed as 'good' by Ofsted for the first time since the child sexual exploitation scandal

Monday, 29th January 2018, 8:05 am
Updated Monday, 29th January 2018, 8:06 am
Alexis Jay revealed the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham

An inspection in 2014 identified 'widespread and serious failures' of children in need of help by the council, while an independent inquiry found 1,400 children had been subject to sexual abuse in the town while those in authority failed to act.

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A re-inspection of the council's services for children in need of help and protection, children who are being looked after and care leavers, carried out in November and published today, said: "The quality and impact of services for children are transformed.

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"Risks to children are recognised early and responded to, ensuring their safety."

The council's children's services department was judged to be failing in most areas by Ofsted in the wake of the report by Professor Alexis Jay, which revealed child sexual exploitation of up to 1,400 children in the town between 1997 and 2013.But following a four week re-inspection in November last year, Ofsted inspectors said the local authority has made 'significant improvement', including protecting those children at risk of sexual exploitation.Inspectors said: "The local authority has taken a systematic and rigorous approach to improvement since the last Ofsted inspection in 2014 which identified widespread and serious failures for children in need of help and protection and children looked after.

"The quality and impact of services for children are transformed. The corporate response and associated change in the quality of children’s services has been impressive.

"Children at risk of child sexual exploitation are identified, and receive an effective multi-agency response to protect them."

Councillor Gordon Watson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services at Rotherham Council, said: "Three years ago we let the childrenof Rotherham down, and we are truly sorry for that.

"We pledged to use the Ofsted report to examine and improve culture and practice across the organisation and this new report hopefully shows we have done just that."My thanks go to staff here at the council and our partners who have helped us to achieve this rating. It would not have been possible without you."

Children’s Commissioner Patricia Bradwell, who was brought in after the CSE scandal to oversee children's services, said: "The council and its partners have worked very hard to change outcomes for children, young people and families here in Rotherham and I am delighted that this hard work has been recognised in this way."Staff and their managers at Rotherham Council have been extremely committed to making the changes in order to provide good services to families."It’s been a privilege to work with councillors, officers and partners on this improvement journey."

Council Leader Chris Read added: "Over the last three years we have made improving our children's services and better protecting our most vulnerable childrenour top priority."Today's report from Ofsted is recognition of the enormous progress that has been made, and is a credit to all our staff and partner organisations that have made ithappen.

"The validation of our work to transform our response to child sexual exploitation underscores how far we have come. Going forward we will continue to learn, to improve, and to challenge ourselves to keep doing better for Rotherham's children."Rotherham Council's Chief Executive, Sharon Kemp, said: "This is great news for the children, young people and families in the borough. "Our focus as a new senior leadership team at the council has been improving outcomes for children and young people.

"It is very pleasing to see that this commitment by so many staff across the council has made such a difference with our services significantly improved."It is important to recognise the many partners who have played a large role in our improvement and I thank them for their continued support and proactive engagement."We are committed to continuing to improve, and addressing the recommendations within the report will be our focus as we continue to support our children, youngpeople and families."