Hampton Ward Newsletter
Many of you will have heard by now of the serious shortcomings of Herefordshire Council’s Children’s Services Department, in respect of two cases dealt with recently by the courts.
The cases relate in the first instance to two children who were made the subject of care orders back in 2008, but who were never placed for adoption. Mr Justice Keehan stated in his recent judgement that the care planning for both of these young people by Herefordshire Council has, over the past 10 years, been woeful.
The second case related to a pair of twins who were proposed to be adopted by different families. Mr Justice Keehan stated he was satisfied that the proposed adoption of the twins into two different homes was due to the incompetence and serial failings of Herefordshire Council and the egregious behaviour of some of its former staff.
A number of other issues were highlighted by the Judge and Herefordshire Council have taken them all on board. Some senior staff members have been replaced and the young people involved, along with their adopters, have been invited to meetings to find out what can be done to improve the Council’s services, from their perspective.
New weekly meetings of the Placement Panel have been scheduled to review individual child cases and these meetings will be chaired by a newly appointed Senior Social Worker. The legal team will also carry out a review of all children under placement orders and the Independent Reviewing Officers Service will ensure that care plans fully reflect an individual child’s current needs. Their other extremely important role is to challenge poor corporate parenting.
There are currently 326 ‘looked after’ children in the County and 117 with Child Protection Plans in place. Finally, over the past 5 years there have been 94 adoption orders granted for Herefordshire children. It’s comforting to note that no children were in danger of harm during this period and another High Court Judge has since commended the Council on the efforts being made to make the necessary changes to the systems.
Elected Members of the Council have been provided with briefings on these subjects and I attended one such meeting. As far as I’m concerned, the officers providing the briefing admitted to the Council’s failings and were extremely open and honest in their presentations and answered all our questions in a similar manner.
I’m now confident that our Children’s Services will vastly improve as a result of these recent court judgements, but an extraordinary meeting of the Full Council has been called for 10.00am on 18th January, to discuss these matters further.
Details of the meeting will be reported in the local paper and on the Council’s web site.Cllr Bruce Baker