Herefordshire is still “too slow” in putting right its troubled children’s services department, the latest government inspection has found.

Ofsted inspectors rated the department as inadequate across the board in September last year, since when it has been subject to ongoing monitoring and assessment.

“Leaders have achieved only modest progress for children in care,” according to Ofsted’s latest monitoring report, its third, based on a visit to the department last month.


“The pace and impact of improvement are too slow,” it said. “Significant objectives in the improvement plan have been delayed or are not on track.”

The way children in care are looked after in the county “remains inconsistent” and they “experience too many changes of social worker” – which has happened to over three-quarters of children in the past year.

Many have only “infrequent” visits from social workers, and “too many” face long waits to have their placements with carers made permanent, Ofsted said.


“A very small number” have been placed in unregistered children’s homes over the last year, while others have been “placed inadvertently” in unapproved households, they found.

Meanwhile the council’s approach to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, whose numbers have increased markedly in recent months, “is not equitable or inclusive”.

Such children are routinely placed outside the county, as “there is an assumption that their needs cannot currently be met in Herefordshire and that they are better placed in inner city areas”.

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They then receive “minimal” visits from social workers, which “has led to some safeguarding concerns”, while “not enough effort is made” to reunite them with family members elsewhere in the UK, Ofsted said.

But the inspectors did find that most disabled children in care “are placed with carers and in placements that meet their needs”, and that they “progress well”.

The council’s corporate director for children and young people Darryl Freeman said: “we accept that there are too many areas where improvement is still not fast or consistent enough and the overall picture is not yet what we would want.”

On the question of staff recruitment and retention, he said: “We are starting to see an increase in applications from social workers who want to join us because of the improvements we have already made, and a recruitment drive to attract new staff.”