Chris Pratt named as new head of Doncaster child services

DONCASTER Council has turned to Greater Manchester to find the man whose job will be to secure the safety of children in the borough.

Chris Pratt, currently corporate director of Trafford Children and Young People’s Service, has been named as the next permanent director of children’s services in Doncaster, following interviews this week. He will take up the post at the earliest opportunity.

Mr Pratt will become the first permanent director of children’s services at the borough since the Government decided to intervene in the running of the department because of its concerns over the state of the service.

The move followed the revelation that seven serious case reviews were carried out into the deaths of youngsters who were known to social services.

The cases included babies Alfie Goddard and Amy Howson. Independent reports into their deaths revealed Doncaster children’s services department ignored a series of warnings about their safety.

Sixteen-month-old Amy Howson died in December 2007 after her dad James Howson, 25, inflicted a series of devastating injuries on his daughter before snapping her spine.

Eleven-week-old Alfie Goddard died of head injuries in May 2008 after being violently shaken and thrown down the stairs by his father, Craig Goddard, 26, at their home in Marton Road, Toll Bar.

Both dads were jailed for murder.

Mr Pratt has been described as overseeing significant improvements at Trafford, whose children’s services have been rated as performing well in the 2009 Comprehensive Area Assessment.

The same assessment rated Doncaster as poor.

Mr Pratt will take over from interim boss Gareth Williams, who has been in charge since the Government took action.

He said: “I am looking forward to taking up my new post in Doncaster and driving forward the improvements.”

Council chief executive Paul Hart said Mr Pratt’s local government experience and track record in improving children’s services were just what Doncaster needed. He said he was currently in discussion with Mr Pratt and his chief executive with a view to him starting at Doncaster at the earliest available opportunity.

The Government children’s minister, Dawn Primarolo, has backed the appoinment. She said: “The children and young people of Doncaster will benefit hugely from the arrival of a permanent Director of Children’s Services.”