Children's services are inspected by a multi-agency team led by Ofsted, which aims to inspect all local authorities by September 2008. These joint area reviews (JARs) include youth services and replace the separate inspections of education authorities, social services, Connexions services, and the provision for students aged 14 to 19.
Normally, a JAR happens at the same time as the Audit Commission's assessment of a council. The focus of the JAR is on the five Every Child Matters outcomes - to be safe, healthy, enjoy and achieve at school, make a positive contribution to society and achieve economic well-being.
Newham, in east London, and Sandwell in the West Midlands were both inspected this summer. Both are in the process of setting up children's trusts to co-ordinate children's services.
Despite Newham's position at the top of many measures of deprivation, the inspectors found that"outcomes for children and young people are generally good and some are outstanding".
By contrast, in Sandwell they found that "the management of services for children and young people is inadequate".