Inspectors raise ‘significant concerns’ over performance of children’s social services in Wrexham
Inspectors have raised “significant concerns” over the performance of children’s social services in Wrexham.
Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) says the delivery of support to youngsters has deteriorated in relation to safeguarding during the latest review period between April 2019 and March this year.
It follows a case review of a vulnerable young person being conducted in January, which identified fears over their safety.
The care watchdog previously said it had “serious” reservations about Wrexham Council’s performance, but has now escalated that status.
The local authority says it has taken immediate steps to address the issues raised, including injecting an extra £1m into the service.
In a letter, Lou Bushell-Bauers, head of the inspectorate’s local authority inspection team, said: “During the last year, CIW’s concerns have escalated from serious to significant in relation to children’s services.
“Wrexham County Borough Council’s performance information over the last year has indicated that key areas of performance have declined across areas of safeguarding practice.
“At the improvement conference held in May 2019, CIW was assured that progress was being made through positive performance information, staff appointments, and reduced workload. This has not been sustained.
“A CIW file review of a vulnerable young person identified a number of areas of concern in relation to safety and well-being.”
She said it was positive to note an improvement board had been set up to address the problems.
Comments from the council’s chief executive Ian Bancroft show the aim of the board is to achieve “tangible improvements”.
The authority has recently taken on a new head of service, who will be tasked with overseeing the changes.
Alwyn Jones, chief officer for social care, said: “Care Inspectorate Wales raised these concerns with us in January and we took some immediate steps to improve children’s services in Wrexham.
“The £1million extra resource, the accelerated improvement board, and our specialist support team have all played a part to ensure that we’re putting our children first.
“Our workforce, which includes social workers and different support workers are trained to support families that need assistance, and they get fully supported by highly skilled managers who do an important job leading their teams.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position to fully meet the needs of children and their families, and we can now work with other partners such as the police and the health service more effectively.
“We have the right number of permanent, trained mangers and staff who have everything they need to make a difference, and this has shown in their work over the past months.”
Cllr Andrew Atkinson, Lead Member for children’s services (pictured above), said: “Although I’m still relatively new to the role myself, I’d like to stress that we have a great new team of officers and we’re all making changes, and there’s been some very good progress made in Wrexham.
“In the two meetings with CIW they told us that they’ve noticed a difference and how we’ve managed to make some big changes in Wrexham already, but the aim is to keep moving forward give even more to support to children in Wrexham.
“We know that we have the foundations in place that will help children and families receive early support, and we are going to do all that we can to make we support families through difficult times.”
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter
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