Targets still missed by Doncaster failed children’s services department

KEY targets are still being missed in Doncaster’s failed children’s services department, latest figures show. The news comes as councillors are about to get their first look at an ambitious plan to make the shamed department a “beacon of excellence” in just three years.

The Doncaster Children and Young People’s Improvement Plan will be discussed by the council’s children and young people overview and scrutiny panel tomorrow.

But latest quarterly monitoring figures also to be considered by the panel tomorrow show the scale of the task ahead with three key targets being missed.

The figures show that, in April this year, 48 out of every 10,000 children in the town were on the Child Protection Register, compared with a target of 30 per 10,000.

Almost six per cent of the children on the register were not allocated to a social worker – the target is none; and fewer than half of initial social care assessments were carried out within seven days, compared with a target of 75 per cent.

By contrast the improvement action plan, drawn up by Doncaster’s new director of children’s services Gareth Williams, details 86 separate actions under five “strategic aims” that will revolutionise every aspect of the shamed directorate by 2012.

Writing in the plan’s introduction, Mr Williams said: “This action plan sets the framework for a journey that will take three years for Doncaster to become ‘outstanding’. Critical changes are needed to ensure children’s safety is improved immediately.”

He added: “This plan outlines our joint ambition to develop high quality children’s services, with safeguarding at their core.”

The Government appointed a board of outside experts to run the department earlier this year after the deaths of seven children prompted serious case reviews into the circumstances surrounding how they died.

These included the deaths of Alfie Goddard and Amy Howson, from Toll Bar and Edlington who were murdered by their fathers.

A series of damning reports laid bare the council’s systematic failure to protect vulnerable children.

The board approved the action plan last month, but tomorrow’s meeting will be the first time councillors have discussed the full document.

The wide-ranging report covers every facet of children’s services, from social services and schools to staff recruitment and aims to create a “modern, efficient and responsive” organisation that will put “children, young people and their families … at the heart of everything we do.”