Changes in troubled child services department ‘too slow’

EXPERTS brought in to oversee the troubled children’s services department of Swansea Council have criticised the slow pace of improvements.

The Assembly-appointed intervention board has said the speed of change is “not adequate” and has called for the authority to show “far more urgency”.

The board was brought in to improve standards at the department following a critical report on its performance by the Children’s Social Services Inspectorate Wales. It is the first time that such troubleshooters have been used in Wales. The board’s views are likely to make uncomfortable reading for councillors when they go before full council today.

While it praises the “cross-party support” provided by the cabinet member for social services — Nick Tregoning — and the chairman and vice-of the new child and family services overview and scrutiny board — Mark Child and Paxton Hood-Williams respectively — it says the authority does not have “effective combined leadership of members and officers in relation to the pressing problems”.

The report concludes: “The intervention board believes some progress has been made. The board also believes the issues facing the council can be resolved. The pace of change, however, is not adequate.

“While the board does not expect all tasks to be completed fully in a very short time, it does expect to receive clear and firm evidence that the autho-is moving in the right direction.

“The authority, therefore, needs to show far more urgency and accelerate, in particular, its resolution of organisational problems and staffing issues.”

Members of the board are in Swansea this week for their regular monthly review of the department, and will return on October 7 and 8 to check on improvements. A Swansea Council spokesman said the department was continuing to improve.

He said: “The report draws attention to meetings which were held with the intervention board in August. It highlights some of the huge challenges which face the council.

“Since that time, there has been intense activity and co-operation between officers and members across the political spectrum to work on all the points raised.”