Councillors back under-fire service

Doncaster's Mansion House
Doncaster's Mansion House

A NUMBER of councillors have spoken in support of the progress being made by Doncaster’s children’s services, despite revelations that child abuse is increasing in the borough.

The Free Press revealed last week how Peter Kemp, chairman of Doncaster Council’s children’s board, was to address full council to say the number of children subject to the protection plan in the borough had risen from 392 to 439 in 12 months.

Councillors were told at the Mansion House meeting that despite the increase in physical abuse cases, Government inspections of the service reported that “good progress” was being made.

Coun Andrew Bosmans told the meeting it was “frightening” that referrals were increasing, however applauded the work done so far by the service which was taken over by the Government in 2009 following the deaths of seven children.

He said: “I welcome progress Doncaster has made in safeguarding children.

“But it is frightening that referrals are increasing.

“At least those children are safe and not left to be abused or neglected. While I applaud the steps taken, we must recognise work is ongoing and is still not complete.”

Mr Kemp also said there were concerns about disruption to the lives of children in care caused by ‘placement changes’ The stability of children of children in placements - such as children’s homes or foster parents - had risen to 61 per cent compared to 68 per cent nationally. The figure needed to be sustained and improved over a longer period, Mr Kemp said.

Coun David Holland said: “We are all encouraged by the progress being made by the children’s services. I’m happy that the importance of stability has also been raised.”

Coun Hilary McNamee said “significant” progress had been made by the department.

Failing in children’s services started to unravel in August 2008 when we revealed that one in 200 of Doncaster’s under 18s was deemed to be at risk of abuse with 317 on the Child Protection Register - twice the national average.