Government inspectorate Ofsted has branded the children’s protection services provided by Doncaster Council “inadequate” despite three years of government intervention.
Ofsted inspectors claim to have found little sign of improvement in an unannounced ten day inspection in October. They identified 244 cases of children in need which had not been allocated to specific social workers and also claimed that workers did not always recognise when children were at risk. Their report also refers to “systematic and unacceptable” delays in resolving cases, and a failure to properly manage risk. Social workers often had a high caseloads and reassignments often hindered them from forming relationships with particular families.
As a result, said Ofsted, the council could not be certain that all children identified as being at risk were safe.
“Those in charge of improving, running and checking Doncaster’s services are working well, have not made sure that when there are delays those children that need help quickly are protected.”
Chris Pratt, the council’s director of children and young people’s services, said the council was working under significant strain.:
“As a result of better child protection work, we are now actually working with an overwhelming number of children – including three times as many more child protection investigations compared to two years ago. Together with huge difficulties in attracting experienced social work professionals to work in Doncaster, this has put tremendous pressure on our services and meant our journey of recovery hasn’t coped as well as we had planned. However, these are not excuses and we can and must do better to improve services.”
Doncaster’s children’s services were placed on notice by the government in 2009 after two boys were brutally assaulted in nearby Edlington that year.