Children’s care improving - but still work to be done

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THE way Calderdale Council looks after children at risk of harm and neglect has improved since it was branded inadequate a year ago – but Ofsted says there is more work to be done.

There are more permanent qualified staff, better working arrangements and assessment processes and they are managing to cope with an increasing workload.

The service is on course for having an official Notice to Improve removed before March next year.

Janet Donaldson, Calderdale Council’s director of children and young people’s service, said there was no room for complacency when it comes to ensuring the safety and well-being of Calderdale’s children and young people.

“We accept the findings of Ofsted’s latest unannounced inspection,” she said. “It is extremely helpful to have an independent assessment of the work we are doing.

“Inspectors have also made clear that we knew ourselves that there is still a great deal of work to be done and that we are committed to continuing the positive journey that we have started.”

She said the council and its partners were working hard to bring about real change in the way they work. “Our top priority is to ensure that children in Calderdale are safe and I will not rest until I am sure that everything we do is as strong and robust as it should be to keep children safe,” she said.

Councillor Olwen Jennings, cabinet member for children and young people, said the authority had come a long way in the past year. “While inspectors have recognised the work that’s already been done, it’s important that we do not falter in our determination to make Calderdale a safer place for our children to grow up in.

“I am confident that the director, her team and the hard-working front-line staff are all doing their very best to make Calderdale a safer place for our children.”

Jane Booth, independent chair of Calderdale Safeguarding Children Board, also welcomed the report. “We are pleased that the council and its partner organisations have made significant progress across a number of areas,” she said. “The Board takes the view that all of the agencies - the council, police, the NHS and schools, should continue to work closely together to bring about further improvements.

“We will continue to monitor progress to ensure that effective and lasting changes are made.”