New mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones has moved to improve the town’s belgeaured children’s services department in her first week in power.
The mayor, who made overhauling the department one of her key election pledges, has wasted little time in getting down to business after announcing that the authority is on the hunt for new working partners to help speed up improving changes in the service.
And she also announced that Chris Pratt, the council’s current director of Children’s Services, is to retire at the end of June after more than three years in the post.
She said: “Protecting our vulnerable children is a top priority as new mayor of Doncaster.
“Appointing an improvement partner will supplement the Children’s Services leadership team, helping them to drive through new processes that safeguard our young people.
“This is the step change Doncaster needs to transform a service which has improved but not at the required rate.”
Problems first came to light in 2009 when an inquiry was launched into children’s services at the council.
The government investigation was ordered after serious case reviews were ordered into the deaths of seven children in the area following reports of neglect and abuse.
And although there have been some improvements in recent years, last year education and children’s watchdog Ofsted revealed shocking details of “inadequate services” which said that vulnerable children in the borough had experienced or were put at risk of “significant harm.”
They awarded the lowest possible rating for the department’s effectiveness, leadership and governance and quality of practice following an unanounced ten-day inspection.
Now Mayor Jones has started the search for a partner to help speed up the transformation of its children’s services.
Specialist children services’ support organisations have been approached to help the council accelerate the pace of change in the service and the new partner will be in place by the beginning of July, bringing with them a successor for Mr Pratt.
Chief executive Jo Miller said: “Chris has been instrumental in moving our Children’s Services forward and we are in a far better place than we were before he arrived. I wish him a happy retirement.”