Birmingham's child protection watchdog has announced she is ‘cautiously confident’ that the city’s failing children’s services are on track to make improvements over the next few months.
Jane Held, chairwoman of the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board, made her assessment as she presented the watchdog’s annual report to Birmingham City Councillors.
The comment came as Birmingham’s Children Services are under investigation by a trio of government appointed experts led by Prof Julian LeGrand.
They will report back to children’s minister Edward Timpson and suggest the way forward for the persistently under performing service.
Ms Held, appearing before the council’s vulnerable children scrutiny committee, repeated her admission that some children in Birmingham are not safe but added that the various agencies involved – social workers, police, health service professionals and schools – are now taking the required steps to improve.
She said the attention was now on the child, rather than the agencies and structures as had happened in the past.
She explained that efforts had been redoubled in the wake of October’s damning serious case review into the death of two-year-old Keanu Williams, beaten to death by his mother Rebecca Shuttleworth in 2011.
But committee chairman Coun Anita Ward (Lab, Hodge Hill) said that over the years they had been given the same message. “I continually hear that we need to listen to the voice of children, and hear we need more partnership working. But this never seems to happen.
"How confident are we that this will change this time?”
Ms Held replied: “I will never say completely confident, but I am cautiously confident. I have evidence of increased focus and change in behaviour from our agencies. People are changing, there has been rapid progress over the last four months.”
Prof LeGrand’s review team has been meeting senior officials and politicians and casting their eyes over children’s social care for two weeks now.