Social workers hit back at claim child was kept in service station overnight

NO child in care was ever made to spend the night at a motorway service station, according to staff.

Social workers in the child and family services department have stepped in to diffuse a row over the claim, which was made following a meeting between staff and Labour group representatives.

Health Minister and Gower AM Edwina Hart issued a statement saying she had been told children had been removed from homes and forced to spend the night with a social worker in a motorway cafe because there has been no emergency accommodation.

Mrs Hart has now been asked to apologise after staff at Swansea Council’s Ty Gwaun and Ty Cwm children’s homes wrote a letter to dismiss the claim, and the row it has triggered which they say is overshadowing the department’s hard work.

“The meeting was very positive, and focused on the good work carried out at the homes,” it reads.

“It was explained during the meeting that on occasion, while suitable accommodation was being arranged for a child, social workers may take a child to a cafe for a burger or pizza for a short time. This is to ensure the child’s physical needs were met, and to bring some form of normality to what is an extremely stressful time for the child.

“However, at no point did any member of staff allege that a child was kept in a motorway service station overnight, and, in fact, motorways were not mentioned in any way during the meeting.”

Council leaders strongly denied the claim after it was made, and Nick Tregoning, cabinet member for social services, challenged Mrs Hart to provide details of the alleged incident, including dates and times, so it could be fully investigated. He said if she was unable to do so, then she should issue a public apology.

A spokesman for Edwina Hart said: “We are quite clear what we were told, and it is a very serious situation. Edwina is pleased the issues have been brought into the open, and that the problems that exist in the department are now being addressed.”

Councillor Tregoning said: “Staff have now made it clear the incident did not take place, and there was no such discussion despite claims that there was.”