Children’s records mistakes revealed

Chris Pratt, the director of DMBC's Children and Young Person's Service. Picture: Liz Mockler D8089LM
Chris Pratt, the director of DMBC's Children and Young Person's Service. Picture: Liz Mockler D8089LM

THE records of young people at Doncaster Council’s under-fire children’s services have been mistakenly put into other case files, a snap inspection has revealed.

Ofsted arrived unannounced, spending two days at the Council House to assess various areas of the department taken over by the Government in 2009 following seven child deaths.

Five areas of development were listed in the report released today, in particular that children’s records containing information relating to a different child were found in other files, leading to the possibility of a breach of confidentiality.

Chris Pratt, director of children’s services, said the mistakes were unacceptable but that the report was “decent”.

He said: “We need to minimise the cases of where that happens because it could lead to a breach in confidentiality.”

Mr Pratt said the council needed to reduce the number of agency staff in order to stabilise the department further - another recommendation.

“We do have too many agency staff. People, in particular children, want that stability of a social worker throughout their care and with agency staff that isn’t always possible,” he told the Free Press.

The service, which in its last inspection had made significant progress, also needs to look at giving information to children, young people and their parents or carers following child protection inquiries and assessments.

Mr Pratt said the council was also addressing its communication with service users.

He said: “It is not very good in terms of getting them to describe their experiences and how they feel. We need to get that feedback.”

The service was highlighted for its good working relationship with other agencies such as police and health staff.

Ofsted also said the service meets the requirements in areas such as its management of referrals and the good standard of social workers.

The report said the time spent carrying out referrals had improved since its failings in 2009 and that case files were up to date with appropriate evidence for the safeguarding of children.

Mr Pratt said: “It is a lot better. Any authority would be pleased with this report.

“We still have staff here who remember when it was absolute chaos and they have seen dramatic improvements since.

“We’re pleased they’ve recognised that we’ve improved the speed in terms of assessment and getting to the problem quicker.

“In the March inspection the report was much more in depth and we were judged to be adequate. We said then it wasn’t good enough even if we had come a long way.

“The service back then was poor and there is no denying that. We have done a lot of work and we have staff who are confident to work here. It is a big step forward.”