LOOKING after children in care has to be one of the biggest priorities for the Furness area.

When families fail, the state must step in to pick up the pieces.

Barrow and Copeland have among the highest levels of ‘looked after’ children in the county, but these areas are not alone.

Regular readers will know that children’s services in Cumbria came under immense criticism a few years back when Ofsted failed the county council three times in four years.

That resulted in Government intervention and changes at the top, which appear to have worked with the most recent full inspection finding services in some areas had risen from 'inadequate' to ‘good,' which hoisted the department out of special measures.

It is reassuring that the latest update from Ofsted continues this theme, particularly because the director largely credited with turning around Cumbria's performance, John MacIlwraith, has now moved on.

Few services of this complexity are ever truly perfect, but the important thing is that the direction of travel is going the correct way.

The challenge now will be ensuring that the head of steam created under Mr MacIlwraith is sustained by his successor.

With the recruitment and retention of social workers still proving tricky, this could be easier said than done.