Vale council praised for bid to prevent repeat of foster care error

THE South Wales council at the centre of a foster care sex abuse scandal earlier this year is making progress in improving the service, according to independent inspectors.

The Vale of Glamorgan Council was heavily criticised last summer after social services staff placed a sex attacker with a family whose children he subsequently sexually abused.

After admitting total responsibility for the mistake, the council drew up an action plan to ensure that such an error never happened again.

The majority of points in the action plan, which involved major changes in the social services directorate, have now been completed.

The authority has also drawn up a wider three-year change plan aimed at improving social services in the Vale.

External regulators and an annual all-Wales local government report into the council social services directorate have described the plan as “comprehensive and well conceived”. Councillor Dorothy Turner, the Vale council’s cabinet member for social service, said: “It is heartening to know that we are making the fundamental changes which are needed.

“The plan is ambitious and challenging but independent inspectors and auditors have recognised that real and significant progress is being made.

“Staff are responding well at all levels. They are determined to provide the best possible services to the right people and to deliver best value.”

In the national report on social services, the Vale is highlighted as a top performer among the 22 Welsh local authorities in areas such as the number of children entering care and having a care plan in place at the time of their first placement.

In contrast, the Vale was listed among the poorer performers in relation to the percentage of initial assessments of children in care carried out within seven working days.

Coun Turner said improvement in this area was a major target for the council and the latest figure was 74%.

She added: “These are difficult times but our workforce is determined to provide the quality services expected by service users and carers within a sustainable budget and in a culture characterised by high performance and rigour.

“It is acknowledged that social services will always be a challenging function for the council. We appreciate that there are still some areas where further improvement is needed. These will continue to be the subject of intensive work in the months and years ahead.”