‘Social workers put off Doncaster by negative publicity’

Bad publicity about the deaths of children known to Doncaster agencies is deterring social workers from applying for jobs in the council, the independent chair of Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board has said.

Roger Thompson, who was appointed in April, told Community Care that recruitment had been badly affected.

Amy Howson and Alfie Goddard SCRs

He made the comments as the safeguarding board published two serious case reviews criticising agencies for failing to protect Amy Howson and Alfie Goddard, who were each murdered by their fathers.

The cases were two of seven that the authority was previously accused of concealing from the public, with the earliest dating back to 2004.

Councillors have claimed they did not know about the SCRs – including two still to be published – until they were reported in the local paper in December.

Honesty pledge

Thompson said he had not been at the council long enough to explain the reasons for this, but said the authority was now “determined to be open and honest”.

But recruitment of permanent children’s social workers remained a challenge, he said. “The reputation of the council goes before it – people are wary about coming to Doncaster.”

One in five social work posts vacant in January

A Community Care survey found that 19% of children’s social work posts were vacant in Doncaster as of 31 January.

Thompson said the council’s three-year children’s services improvement plan, published last month, would address the recommendations of the SCRs.

The plan, which has been approved by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, includes a target to reduce children’s services vacancy rates to 7%.

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