Praise for Vale Council social services action plan

THE Vale of Glamorgan social services department – at the centre of a foster care abuse scandal earlier this year – is making improvements, according to external regulators and an annual all-Wales local government report.

The council’s social services directorate is currently implementing a three-year change plan (2007-10) which has been described by independent assessors as ‘comprehensive and well conceived’.

The department came in for widespread criticism earlier this year, after admitting responsibility for placing a sex offender with a family, whose children he went on to abuse.

Following the case, the council drew up an action plan involving changes within the social services directorate, and a three-year plan aimed at improving the department’s services as a whole.

Cabinet member for social care Cllr Dorothy Turner 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.”

The work has led to improvement in many areas, including: BLOB: A reduction in the number of out-of-county placements of looked-after children and in staff absence levels.

BLOB: The ongoing development of Telecare services to help people remain independent.

BLOB: Action to deal with the causes of budget overspending.

In the national report, 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 (100 per cent, Welsh average 92 per cent), and adult carers offered an assessment (92.7 per cent; Welsh average 60.9 per cent).

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 (38.1 per cent; Welsh average 67.7 per cent).

Improvement in this area has become a major target for the council and the latest figure for the current year is 74 per cent.

Cllr Turner 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.”