By Eric White
CHILDREN in Thurrock are safe, says Ofsted in its latest inspection of Thurrock Council’s services for children in need of help and protection.
Although the report describes the council’s services as "requiring improvement", the report states: "Children and young people were found to be safe in Thurrock […] with none identified who were at immediate risk of significant harm without plans and services being in place."
It goes on: "The local authority has effectively addressed almost all areas for improvement identified at their last inspection."
Cllr Bukky Okunade, the council’s portfolio holder for children’s social care, said: "We are committed to improving our Children’s Services and it is good to hear the inspectors themselves say we have recognised where we need to improve things, and we are getting on with it."
She added: "The report recognises much of the good work we are doing, especially the cross-party party work which shows how the care of children is not a political football, but something we work together on.
"I’d particularly like to thank Cllr James Halden, Cllr Sue Little, and Cllr Barbara Rice who chair the Children’s Scrutiny Committee, the Corporate Parenting Committee, and the Health and Wellbeing Board, which Ofsted specifically referenced."
Cllr Okunade, thanked staff within Children’s Services for their hard work and commitment to improving outcomes for children and families in Thurrock.
And she said: "Equally the part parents and carers play is crucial and the good work they do, as well as their co-operation, is recognised and deserving of our thanks.
"Children’s social care is a very difficult job and local councils across the country are striving to do better.
"In the 91 local councils where Ofsted have already carried out this sort of scrutiny under what’s called the single inspection framework, only two are outstanding and 21 are classed as good.
"Forty-five, around half, are, like us, requiring improvement, leaving a quarter classed as inadequate.
"I would urge everyone to read the whole report and not just concentrate of the headlines; I particularly would encourage reading paragraphs 96 to 113.
"Ofsted doesn’t pull any punches, and that’s as it should be; but it also explains where we get it right and where we are already working to improve, but the most important message is that children in Thurrock are safe."