ROSEMARIE HARRIS, Leader of Powys County Council, has put her political head on the block, by vowing to turn around the council’s Children’s Services following the publication of a damning report.
The council has 12 months to turn things around before the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) return and inspect the department again.
It is estimated that it will cost the authority £4million to make the necessary improvements.
Their 29 page inspection report outlines that the council needs to produce an improvement plan within 20 working days of the report being made public (on October 17).
The report says that problems are due to “significant senior management changes within social services”.
In a turbulent year, the authority has seen the director of social services leave in December 2016, the head of children’s services left in July with only “interim” replacements.
The report findings say: “Children and young people do not appear to be well served by the current arrangements for accessing support services in Powys.
“There is evidence of missed opportunities to safeguard children, despite requests for support.
“There are serious performance issues with frontline services, however these arose because of instability in management, poor and confused direction and weak governance.
“Without effective support and capacity to undertake the work, frontline staff cannot be expected to undertake the complex work required in children’s social services.”
CSSIW chief inspector Gillian Baranski said: “It is clear from this report that we have serious concerns about the way children’s services are run by Powys County Council.
“We have serious concerns about leadership and management arrangements.
“We have made this clear to Powys County Council and expect to see rapid improvement to ensure that children are safeguarded and families in Powys receive the level of service they deserve.”
Powys County Council leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris, responded to the report: “We fully accept the regulators’ recommendations, their report is both hard hitting and challenging.
“We are sorry that we failed to meet the high standards residents deserve and apologise for our shortcomings.
“The council is totally committed to safe-guarding children in our county, and I will be leading the council’s response to the recommendations of the inspection from the front as a top priority and that ensuring that the resources are in place to underpin this work.
“We fully understand the challenges facing the service and have already taken action to strengthen key areas and to review areas of concern.
“When the new Cabinet took the helm after the election in May this year, we recognised that there were a number of weaknesses in Children’s Services.
“Together with officers we developed an escalation plan immediately to address these issues.”
Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Rachel Powell, said: “The feedback from the inspectors acknowledges that staff have been and continue to be, resilient and professional despite significant changes made within the service.
“Initiating change demands strong leadership, dedication and a shared focus that is owned by all members of staff, at all levels of delivery.”
n A special meeting of Powys County Council was being held on Thursday, October 19, to discuss the report.
See full story in the County Times