Sandwell’s crisis hit children’s services to finally get permanent team

Sandwell Council have appointed a new head of children’s services in a bid to bring stability to the crisis-hit department.

When Helen Smith takes up her post in May it will be the first time in five years a team of permanent employees has led children’s social care.

Last year Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission published a damning report about children’s services in Sandwell.

The inspector’s report said: “The analysis of safeguarding need within the diverse children’s population in Sandwell is inadequate and lacks comprehensive awareness of potential risk to some vulnerable groups within the community.”

Mrs Smith, a mother of two, has joined the department from Cumbria County Council where she ran the west of the county.

Last Summer she was involved in co-ordinating the council’s psychological support for school pupils after Derrick Bird’s gun massacre.

She said: “I am really excited to be offered a post at Sandwell, where there is a real vision, commitment and enthusiasm for improvements and a robust plan of action in place.

“My aim is to help the service achieve its potential and ensure all children are properly safeguarded.”

Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for children and young people Cllr Bob Badham said: “Helen is an outstanding leader who will ensure we continue to drive forward improvements to children’s social care.

“I look forward to working with her in our task of ensuring our children’s social care becomes among the best in the country.”