THE quality of children’s services in York has declined and improvements are not being made quickly enough, according to Ofsted.

Inspectors have graded the local authority’s services as ‘requires improvement to be good’ in all areas after visiting York in March.

Ofsted rated the service as ‘good’ at the last full inspection in 2016 and there have been several warnings about the decline in standards since then.

READ MORE: MP hits out at York council after poor Ofsted report

The appointment of interim director of children’s services, Anne Coyle, who joined the council in October, has resulted in “recent improvements”.

But lead inspector Matt Reed said in his report that, despite “significant investment” and an improvement board being in place since 2019, the pace of change was still too slow and that there is still “significant variation” in the quality of services and social work practice.

Mr Reed said that some children remained in neglectful situations for too long due to “over-optimism” about the progress made by some families.

“This means that, for a small number of children, their lives do not significantly improve, and families do not sustain change and are subjected to repeat interventions,” he said.

A lack of foster carers and suitable fostering placements, the quality of social workers’ evidence to court and the wellbeing of a small number of children in unregistered children’s homes were also raised as concerns in the report.

But Mr Reed singled out the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH), the targeted early help service and the “highly effective” virtual school for praise.

Most social workers are also happy about working for the council.

City of York Council’s chief operating officer, Ian Floyd, and councillors are “well informed” on where improvements are needed, Mr Reed said.

Cllr Ian Cuthbertson, executive member for children, young people and education, said: “Whilst areas such as early help and schools and education work are rightly commended, we recognise the improvements that are needed in some other areas, such as consistency of practice and ensuring children and young people influence decision making at all levels. 

“Work to address these challenges has been under way for some time and will continue, now we have completed the permanent appointments of chief officers within children’s services.

“I would like to thank our children’s social workers, social care staff, their managers and partners across the city, who continue to do such amazing work in what continues to be a challenging time for children’s social care services across the country.”

Mr Floyd added: “The inspection findings validate our ongoing commitment to continuously improve our services.

“We are committed to delivering the very best possible services to the vulnerable children of York”.