Wednesday, 1 July 2009

City’s child care chiefs are failing youngsters

Inspectors condemn Dundee council and other agencies
Child protection chiefs in Dundee have been accused of failing to take action to protect vulnerable youngsters until their circumstances reach crisis levels.
A damning report into the citys child protection service published today the first since the death of Dundee toddler Brandon Muir last March revealed a litany of weaknesses and failures.
HM Inspectorate of Education officials, who published the report three months early at the bequest of SNP ministers in wake of Brandons death, had no confidence that all children at risk of harm, abuse and neglect are protected.
They found major weaknesses in the type of help children are given in immediate response to concerns for their safety.
The report, one of the worst in Scotland alongside criticism of Aberdeen services last year and Moray in February, graded eight of the 18 categories examined as weak.
The indictment applied to leadership, policies, procedures and planning.
Six categories were rated as satisfactory, one as unsatisfactory and three as good.
No aspect of the service by Dundee City Council, Tayside Police, NHS Tayside, the Scottish Childrens Reporter and voluntary and independent organisations was rated excellent or very good.
The inspectors, who looked at services in February and March, said there were not enough social workers to respond quickly to all the needs of vulnerable children.
They found that some youngsters had been removed from the child protection register without clear evidence that the identified risks to their safety had been reduced.
The report focuses on child protection services in general and not the circumstances that led to the death last year of 23-month-old Brandon.
Its author, Jacquie Pepper, said: Inspectors were not confident that all children who were at risk of harm, abuse or neglect, in need of protection were identified and received the help and support they needed.

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