Statement following sentencing in Khyra Ishaq trial

By on 12/03/2010 in News

lawrence-les2Cllr Les Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “Today's sentencing brings to a close a very sad chapter in this city which begun with the death of Khyra Ishaq over 22 months ago.

“Sadly we can not turn back time. We fully understand the public concern and upset over the tragic death of this young child.

“For our part, we will continue to fulfil our responsibility to all children and young people in our city and respond as a matter of urgency to any lessons that emerge from the serious case review.

“Over the last 18 months, many improvements have taken place within children's social care and we are committed to continuing on this journey.”

Background

In the year in which Khyra Ishaq died. Ofsted judged children's safeguarding in Birmingham to be inadequate (December 2008). As a result, the Department for Children, Young People and Families issued an Improvement Notice in February 2009.

These two events galvanised efforts by the City Council to make rapid and sustainable improvements within safeguarding and wider children's social care.

Since then the Government has monitored the Council's progress using qualitative measures and a clear set of performance targets. 

At the end of July 2009 the Government Minister of State for Children Dawn Primarolo acknowledged that “good progress” had been made, adding that there was now evidence of a “cultural shift” within children's social care.

In November 2009 the Minister said: “It is evident that in Birmingham there is a high level of political and management will to commit resources to deliver sustainable improvements to keep children safe. I last reviewed performance three months ago and I am pleased to see that there continues to be sustained improvement.”

This week, the Minister again met with the City Council. Speaking after the meeting on Tuesday, Birmingham City Council Leader Mike Whitby said:

“We have had a very positive meeting with the Minister. We were able to demonstrate to her the significant improvements we’ve made to our services and our commitment and determination to embed sustainable progress since the Improvement Notice was issued.  She acknowledged our improvement and is now considering how best Government can continue to support us.”

Evidence of subsequent progress includes the following:

• Across the performance indicators there has been significant improvement.  We have met four of the eight targets; in another three improvements have been significant; the remaining stubborn target is about recruitment of social workers, a national issue of concern to all local authorities. 

• The Council achieved a positive assessment from the Ofsted unannounced inspection of Duty & Assessment Services in November 2009 - an inspection which concluded that there were no children at immediate risk of harm, staff receive effective supervision, and managers are supportive, accessible and demonstrating clear and focussed leadership.

• There were excellent outcomes from the Ofsted Inspection of Looked After Children Education Services (LACES) in December 2009. The inspectors found “several key features which are now outstanding”.

• Informal feedback from the January 2010 inspection of fostering service is positive with an overall judgement of “good” with outstanding features.

During this period an internal City Council Scrutiny Inquiry completed its report in September 2009 and this set out in detail the service shortfalls which underpinned the reasons for the 'inadequate' judgement in 2008. The service response has been translated into an Action Plan. The scrutiny process will continue to be used to track our progress on these improvements.

We have given a high level of political leadership and scrutiny to this issue, particularly through Task Force led by Cllr Mike Whitby, established to oversee and steer the improvements.

The Task Force will remain in place to oversee and steer the remaining necessary improvements.

Children's social care has been afforded protection in the recent significant efficiency challenges being managed by the City Council.

We have rolled out our rapid improvement programme facilitated by PwC to help establish a culture of ownership, personal responsibility and accountability - the areas for improvement are those identified in the Improvement Notice.

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