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Former Wick childcare service branded ‘weak’ by inspectors


By Philip Murray

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Wick Family Centre. Picture: Google
Wick Family Centre. Picture: Google

A school holiday care service for children with additional support needs has been rated ‘weak’ and ‘unsatisfactory’ by inspectors.

The Care Inspectorate has ordered the Wick Family Centre to implement a number of recommendations after it rated it “weak” in three out of four areas, and “unsatisfactory” in the other.

The ratings come after its inspectors carried out an unannounced visit in April. In May, the centre announced that it was to cease operating as a children’s daycare provider, but inspectors published their report this week.

Wick Family Centre, which is run by the charity No Limits Caithness and operates during school holidays and on Saturdays during term time, was rated as not offering “a range of rich, stimulating play resources” and also flagged up “gaps in staff knowledge and skills” and added that a “lack of progress in making improvements” since a previous inspection was preventing young people experiencing the highest quality care.

But the inspectors also highlighted a number of positives from their trip too, including the positive views parents had of the staff and service, as well as the opportunities for the youngster to “engage with their wider community”.

Summing up the strengths and weaknesses, the inspectors said: “Children and young people were provided with opportunities to engage with their wider community. The indoor environment was spacious and provided children with ample space to move around. Parents appreciated the service and spoke positively about the staff team.

“The setting did not offer a range of rich, stimulating play resources to support and encourage children and young people’s development and interests. Lack of progress in making improvements meant that children and young people did not experience high quality care. Children and young people’s rights, needs and choices were not well supported as the service was not well led and managed.

“Gaps in staff knowledge and skills impacted on the quality of children and young people's experiences and outcomes.”

The Wick Family Centre provides care for a maximum of 16 children with additional support needs between the ages of four and 16, with four of those places also possibly used for up to four 16 to 18-year-olds.

Its service was rated weak for its “care, play and learning”, “setting” and “staff team”, while it was labelled unsatisfactory for its “leadership”.

A number of requirements were put in place following previous visits but inspectors ruled that these had not yet been met and extended the deadline to meet some until June 21.

These included measures to minimise the risk of infection, and also the need for “personal plans” for each child’s needs.

Inspectors also previously highlighted three areas for improvement, aimed at boosting staff training, and improved play spaces aimed at promoting children's curiosity and creativity.

In a statement made online last month, the charity said: “No Limits Caithness is currently de-registering as a children's daycare provider with the Care Inspectorate. We are restructuring and are aiming to re-open as a support service as soon as we can.”

A request for comment was made to the centre’s management.


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