A “systemic failure” in Calderdale Council’s child protection services has been identified by serious case reviews into the deaths of two children published today.
The probes into the deaths, which occurred within two months of each other in 2007, called for a review of the West Yorkshire authority’s initial response team after finding “poor professional practice”.
Concerns were raised about agencies’ compliance with safeguarding procedures following the cot death of a child in October 2007.
The SCR concluded there were failings in support given to the child and her family in the period before her death, when both parents were on probation orders and there were “serious incidents” of domestic violence.
In the second case, concerning the death from natural causes of a disabled child in December 2007, there were “serious shortcomings” in safeguarding by the initial response team and Calderdale NHS, the serious case review found.
Calderdale Council’s care services failed to contribute to the planning for the child’s discharge from hospital despite concerns about her home conditions and family, it said.
Following the reviews’ publication today, Paul Brennan, acting group director for children and young people’s services at the council, said there was “no suggestion” that the deaths would have been prevented by better social work help, but admitted that the department’s work “was found wanting”.
Brennan said immediate action had been taken including more training for social workers and their managers, and confirmed that regular checks on progress were being made.
“Social workers are now encouraged to look more carefully at any signs of neglect or abuse and will no longer be fobbed off by excuses. We are determined to make more improvements to ensure that children and families have the best possible help and the best possible start in life,” he said.