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Assembly Member expresses concern about the safety of children's services in Neath Port Talbot

December 19, 2011 3:30 PM
Originally published by Peter Black and South Wales West Liberal Democrats

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black, has called on the Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas to closely monitor children's services in Neath Port Talbot following the publication of a highly critical inspection report.

Although the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales said that there had been improvements in the Council's children and young people's service, they identified a number of factors which they said 'impact on the authority's ability to provide a safe, high quality responsive service.'

These factors include the loss of experienced practitioners, a continuing high turnover of staff, the reliance on agency staff, high case loads for social workers, an increase in the volume and complexity of referrals, and inconsistent case recording. The inspectorate concluded: 'Taken together these factors pose a significant risk in respect of ensuring the welfare and safety of children in the authority.'

Mr Black said: "I am very concerned about this report and the picture it paints of the way that Neath Port Talbot Children's Services operates. I have dealt with a constituent recently, whose experience of working with Neath Port Talbot's Childrens' Services raised many questions about how that section operates, its processes and the way that they manage risk. In fact I was so concerned that I met with the Deputy Minister to ask her to intervene. I know too that there have been a number of serious case reviews that also ask serious questions of the department.

"I will now be seeking assurances that there will be much closer monitoring of the weaknesses identified by this report and that a further inspection is held within the next 12 months so as to confirm improvements are continuing to be made. The Welsh Government must not rule out a direct intervention if things do not improve."