Doncaster child care shake-up will take three years

CHILDREN’S services chiefs at Doncaster Council yesterday claimed they were “on track” to provide improvements, despite warning councillors that total recovery would take three years.

Members of the authority’s children and young people overview and scrutiny panel were told at a meeting last week that it would “take time” to sort out the massive problems in the department.

But yesterday, the council’s interim director of children’s services Gareth Williams, said an “improvement plan” drawn up by his staff had been approved by ministers, and was delivering results.

The plan, which was published earlier this year, warns that “there is very poor social care provision in Doncaster and the risks associated with this fact cannot be ameliorated in six months”.

Doncaster Council has been hit by a series of scandals in the past few months, including a report which highlighted the authority’s”chaotic” children’s services following seven child deaths.

A Government hit squad was drafted in and Mr Williams himself was appointed from Leicestershire County Council to bring some order to the department.

Yesterday the council said it had set a deadline of September for the first wave of improvements, but claimed that most of those targets had been hit.

Mr Williams said: “In accordance with the plan we now have a very experienced change team in place to drive forward improvements.

“We are starting to recruit, retain and motivate staff of the very highest calibre. Salaries for children’s social work have been reviewed and now better those at some rival local authorities.

“As well as the financial incentive, I guarantee that any social workers coming to Doncaster will get the training and support they need to progress their careers.”