City's Social Services 'Not Fit For Purpose'

Birmingham Social Service's child protection system has been slammed as "not fit for purpose" in a new report.

The report, titled Who Cares? Protecting Children and Improving Children's Social Care, by a Birmingham City Council scrutiny committee stated that the current model of service delivery was "patently not working" and stressed that investment was urgently needed in order to tackle a number of immediate and short-term issues.

The report also cited a lack of senior management and a shortage of experienced staff as problems when it came to child referrals and said that the time social workers spent with children and families who needed their help was extremely limited. Reasons cited for this included time spent writing records, the high number of cases, a large number of vacancies and absences due to staff illness.

Members of the committee who visited all the council's main social care establishments said that they were "shocked and dismayed" at the standard of accommodation at some of the sites, the report noted.

Among the report's recommendations were an increase in funding for staff training and development, as well as better assessment and development of managerial staff.

The report was commissioned following the deaths of at least eight children known to social services in Birmingham in the last four years, including seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq, from Handsworth, who was alleged to have been starved to death. Her mother and stepfather are due to stand trial for murder next year. Both have denied the charge.

The report's findings have been accepted by the council, which said that it was working to improve care.


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