Welsh directors call for grants to stay

    Welsh social services directors have called for dedicated grants
    for children’s services to continue after a Welsh assembly report
    found child protection services to be patchy.

    An overview report on child protection by the Welsh assembly’s
    health and social services committee published last week found that
    some local authorities were struggling to cope with a significant
    increase in referrals to child protection services (news, page 10,
    22 July).

    The report found high re-referral rates in councils with a limited
    service provision and very high threshold criteria to gain
    access.

    Timely core assessments were not being completed in many
    authorities and there was little evidence of good analysis in
    assessments. The quality of case files was found to be not good
    enough, with some authorities still keeping family files instead of
    one for each child.

    Hugh Gardner, chair of the Association of Directors of Social
    Services in Wales, urged the Welsh assembly to scrap proposals to
    consolidate the children first grant into the local authority
    revenue support grant. The grant accounts for about 10 per cent of
    children’s budgets.

    “There is a clear case for targeted resources,” he said. “We know
    that where we get a clear sense of direction and resources linked
    to that we get development.”

    Joe Howsam, ADSS Wales child care spokesperson, also warned that
    increasing first line management, as proposed by Lord Laming in the
    Victoria Climbie Report, would deplete the pool of experienced
    social workers. “There’s a tension about how quickly we can move
    forward,” he said.

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