ST HELENS Council will do “whatever it takes” to improve children’s services after being rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted, the leader of the council has said.

Earlier this month the social services watchdog gave an inadequate rating for “overall effectiveness” of children’s services in St Helens.

“The experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers” was also rated inadequate while “the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families” and “the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection” both require improvement to be good.

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The findings came following a two-week inspection covering all aspects of children’s social care services in St Helens in September.

On Wednesday, St Helens Council leader David Baines reiterated the council’s commitment to improving the borough’s struggling children’s services.

St Helens Star: St Helens Town HallSt Helens Town Hall

The Labour leader was speaking as cabinet were asked to approve the council’s revised descriptions of need document, which aims to provide professionals working in partnership with families to assess the level of need and to plan the offer of support, which may include more than one service.

Cllr Baines said: “Can I just take this opportunity to use this forum just to reiterate our commitment to children’s services in St Helens.

“The recent Ofsted findings obviously were not what we would have hoped for.

“We are committed to improving children’s services, to do whatever it takes.

“And as this document shows we take it very seriously, and it is a priority for us.”

A revised descriptions of need document was first approved by cabinet in September 2018 and launched in November of that year.

Staff briefing sessions were held in November, December and January and a number of agencies also briefed their own staff.

St Helens Star: St Helens Council leader David BainesSt Helens Council leader David Baines

A multi-agency writing group was also established to develop and amend the document.

Agencies included education, health, police, public health, safeguarding, social services, community, faith and voluntary sector and youth justice.

In addition to feedback received from the briefing sessions the writing group reconvened in summer of 2019 to review and update the document, which has now been approved by cabinet.

Writing in the revised document, professor Sarah O’Brien, strategic director for People’s Services, said: “In St Helens we are committed to ensuring children, young people and their family’s needs are identified and supported when they need it, and at the level they require to enable them to thrive and be safe.

“The best way to achieve this is when professionals work together with families.

“Effectively helping and supporting children, young people and families requires a commitment from all the agencies involved to have the same core values, knowledge and skills.

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“In St Helens all public sector services are working in partnership to manage the challenges of increasing costs and demand whilst seeking to maintain and improve quality.

“We have collectively developed St Helens Cares, a local care system that brings together a range of local service providers.

“Together we are jointly responsible for the quality and cost of care for local people.”