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Kent County Council’s children’s services have been rated ‘exceptional’ by Ofsted, with inspectors acknowledging the council has been dealing with an ‘unprecedented number’ of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

The Ofsted report, published yesterday, scores highest in three of the four categories and ‘good’ in the fourth, with overall effectiveness in providing services to children ‘outstanding’.

Ofsted found that children are central to the culture and practice of Kent County Council, where they are supported and cared for by an experienced and skilled workforce who listen and respond to their views and feelings .

The council has been praised for the way it works with family members and friends to help them support children and young people to stay with their own families.

Inspectors also praised the ‘exceptional practice’ for children in care and young people leaving care, who are ‘clearly benefiting from the support they receive and are progressing well’.

Ofsted acknowledged that Kent Children’s Services have faced additional pressures brought on by the pandemic, rising numbers of cases and the need to care for and protect the ‘unprecedented number’ of unaccompanied child asylum seekers arriving in the county.

According to the report, “senior leaders and front-line staff responded well to these exceptional circumstances.”

Council leader Roger Gough said: ‘The Ofsted rating of our children’s services is one of the most important judgments about us as an organization and it’s a fantastic achievement for the children and young people that we protect, care and support. The rating is recognition of the dedication and commitment demonstrated by our staff across all child services.

“Despite the enormous challenges of the pandemic and those we still face with growing demand and the unprecedented number of unaccompanied child and youth asylum seekers arriving in the county and in need of our assistance, our staff and our senior leaders provide exceptional service.

Sue Chandler, Cabinet Member of Kent County Council for Integrated Childhood Services, said: “Protecting vulnerable children and families from harm and supporting them to live safe and fulfilling lives is one of our most important roles, so I’m delighted that Ofsted has rated our children’s services as outstanding.

“During the inspection parents shared their views on our services with the inspectors and it is wonderful to hear that they were unanimously positive about the way they work with the staff and the support they receive. Ofsted’s findings are great news for all who receive and provide care and support.