Calderdale child-care services are still awaiting a full-time team

IT IS still unclear when a permanent team will be in place to run Calderdale council’s crisis-stricken children’s social-care department.

An interim director has been put in charge of children and young people’s services, following the suspension of Janet Donaldson, and the council has appointed another interim head of children’s social care following the sudden departure of Pixley Clarke and Sharmaine Lawrence.

But council leaders remain upbeat. “We cannot say when a permanent leadership team will be in place,” council leader Janet Battye told the cabinet.

“But a great deal of very good work is being done by our interim replacements.”

Calderdale Council’s children and young people scrutiny panel will get an update next Tuesday on its plans for a detailed review of social care for children.

Members agreed on November 8 to set up a working party with a view to publishing a report by January 17.

The council has been under pressure since Ofsted described children’s safeguarding services as inadequate nearly two years ago and issued the council with a notice to improve.

It continues to “perform poorly” according to the latest Ofsted inspection but an independent review indicates children are safer now than they used to be.

The review will look at why Ofsted believes services are poor, evaluate previous council responses to inspection reports and make recommendations for improvements.

A “select committee” will take evidence from witnesses which will be recorded and an anonymised transcript produced.

The scrutiny panel was told: “There was a need to be assured of a culture of openness and honesty from the top down,” however, evidence gathering sessions will not be open to the public.

Since the Courier highlighted the problems, several parents have spoken out about social services failings.

The council recently approved a new children’s social care improvement plan which concentrates on getting the basics right.

Calderdale Safeguarding Children Board will continue to lead on priority areas where young people experience neglect, those abused through sexual exploitation, those who run away and those affected by abuse.