Children ‘not a priority’ in Jersey, says Ofsted

Jersey social services are not prioritising the needs of children amid a ‘legacy of widespread’ failures, Ofsted inspectors have concluded.

A Jersey Care Commission report said a lack of political and corporate support and poor infrastructure had left services ‘struggling in isolation’.

Failures meant social workers and managers, despite being committed to improving children’s outcomes, were not operating in the right conditions, inspectors said.

Children in care were also ‘significantly behind’ their peers in all stages of education.

While the inspection did not identify any children at risk of ‘immediate harm’, the report said social care work needed to be better co-ordinated, saying ‘there is clearly some way to go before all children receive effective and timely support’.

Some children had contact with too many social workers because of recruitment and retention problems, and a shortfall of placements had resulted in around a quarter of children in care being placed off the island away from their families.

Noting there was no specific legislative framework in Jersey on how to support young people leaving care services, the report said leavers’ transition process was ‘not consistently well managed’.

Despite receiving investment last year with positive impacts reported, children’s services in Jersey were ‘significantly under-resourced’, the commission said.

It is calling on investment to improve leadership across services as well as performance among management.

Chief Minister of Jersey Senator John Le Fondré said: ‘We have started to implement a new improvement plan and will take any necessary steps to take into account the recommendations for further improvement.’