Doncaster rates own children’s services ‘very poor’

Doncaster has rated its own children's services as still "very poor", more than a year after the government intervention.

Doncaster has rated its own children’s services as still “very poor”, more than a year after the government intervention.

The admission is included in a report by Doncaster’s children’s services director, Chris Pratt, as part of the council’s improvement plan.

It said gaps in management capacity and effectiveness remain and multi-agency working had yet to be improved. There has been no cohesive management and staffing structure imposed and staff attendance rates have yet to reach a “more acceptable level”.

Less than half of the children considered at-risk in the area receive initial assessments within seven working days.

Pratt blamed a sharp increase in referrals for the failings. He said that between 2007 and 2009, the council had seen a 216% increase in the number of initial contacts with children and their families. Nationally, the rise was just 25% and in Yorkshire and Humberside 54% .

The council hopes to clean up the department with the improvement plan drawn up by the children’s board, formerly the children’s improvement board, and approved in April.

Pratt said: “We have always acknowledged there is a long way to go in order to improve the overall performance of safeguarding and we are fully committed to driving forward the significant improvement that is needed.”

Doncaster has been the centre of controversy over the past 12 months. Concerns about child protection were raised after two boys tortured two other children in Edlington. The family was known to the council and the serious case review concluded that the incident could have been prevented.

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