The Government's reforms to children's services are deliveringimprovements according to an Ofsted review of local authorityinspections.
Narrowing the Gap: the inspection of children's services examined atotal of 139 joint area reviews and annual performance assessmentscarried out during 2005/06.
It found that in most authorities children's services are improving as aresult of increased joint working. Out of the 139 authorities, 107 weredeemed to be making a good contribution to children and young people'swelfare.
The report examined how well local authorities are doing at deliveringthe five Every Child Matters outcomes. Inspectors reported that goodprogress is being made on the 'being healthy', outcome with noauthorities proving inadequate in this area. But health services forvulnerable children, such as those in care or with disabilities, needimprovement.
Most authorities are also performing well on the 'staying safe' outcome,although a significant number are failing to provide suitable placementsfor looked-after children and the thresholds for accessing social careservices are often too high.
On the 'enjoying and achieving' outcome, Ofsted found that the bestperforming authorities were those with effective support for schools toreduce the attainment gap between non-vulnerable and vulnerablepupils.
Well-planned transitions between services and schools were also found tobe a key factor in local authorities that did well on the 'making apositive contribution' outcome.
Authorities that failed to involve young people in decisions about theirlife tended to perform worse on this outcome.
Finally, Ofsted found that a "large majority" of authorities weredelivering good results on the 'achieving economic wellbeing' outcome.But more accurate analysis of young people's needs is needed.
Miriam Rosen, director of education at Ofsted, said the overall pictureis of improving services but more work is needed to help vulnerablechildren.
"Vulnerable pupils are not getting the good outcomes of their peers yetand that's particularly the case for looked-after children. That gapneeds to close."
- Local authorities did worst on the 'staying safe' outcome with 11councils deemed to be performing inadequately on this
- No councils were inadequate on the 'being healthy' outcome or the'positive contribution' outcome
- The report is available at www.ofsted.gov.uk.