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Children's Commissioner Report And Ministerial Decision On Herefordshire Council's Children's Services Published

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The Report Published by the Department For Education


Please see the response from Herefordshire Council below;

Herefordshire Council has confirmed publication of the Children’s Commissioner’s report and the subsequent Ministerial decision on Herefordshire Children's Services.

"We fully accept the Minister’s decision and would like to thank the Children’s Commissioner, Eleanor Brazil, for her support throughout the review of our children’s social care services.

Paul Walker, Chief Executive, said:

"I would like to thank the Children’s Commissioner for her report. We are grateful to her for all the work she has done and are committed to working with her and all our partners to meet the targets she has set. I am sorry for the failures she has highlighted – our children and families deserve better and we will work tirelessly to ensure we build the service we all wish to see

Improving Herefordshire Children’s Services remains this council’s number one priority. There are areas of progress identified by the Commissioner on which we can build, but we accept the pace of change has not been fast enough. We now have in place a detailed three-year improvement plan, which the Commissioner recognises as a strong platform for progress over the coming months, significant additional investment, a strengthened leadership team, a targeted recruitment and retention campaign and the structure for an independent commission to give families a voice and help us all move forward from the mistakes of the past.

As the Commissioner makes clear in her report, many of the issues facing Herefordshire Children’s Services are long-standing and complex. But we are determined that we will bring about the changes necessary in the timescales set out so that we build a better service fit for the future"

Darryl Freeman, Director of Children’s Services, said:

"This is a difficult report for everybody working in the children’s service and I want to say sorry to all the children and families who have not received the support that they deserved. I want to thank the Commissioner for her work and the manner in which she has approached her task. All of us share her vision for the service we want to create and are wholeheartedly committed to meeting the targets she has set within the timescales laid out.

We welcome this opportunity to work further with the Commissioner and external partners. As the Commissioner says, there are areas of progress which have already been made and on which we can build. But we know that the pace of change has to be quicker, and it will be. I know that the dedication and commitment of everybody involved in the service is entirely focussed on that goal and giving children and families the service they deserve"

Cllr David Hitchiner, Leader Herefordshire Council, said:

"The Commissioner’s report makes clear the work which is needed to improve our children’s services and the speed with which it must be done. We fully accept the Commissioner’s findings and I personally would like to thank her for the exceptional way in which she has gone about her work.

I would also again like to apologise to all the families and children who have not received the support they deserved over a number of years and restate the determination of my administration to put things right.

We welcome the opportunity to work with the Commissioner, partner authorities, other agencies and families to bring to an end the failings which have affected our children’s service for far too long.

We know – and the Commissioner acknowledges - that change is under way and improvements have started to show through. We’ve strengthened the leadership team, allocated £22million of investment and sought external and independent advice to put right some of the mistakes of the past. But we also know that there is much more still to be done. We will do it. And we will ensure that the voice of children and families who use our service are heard throughout this process"

Cllr Diana Toynbee, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said:

"I want to thank the Children's Commissioner for her work, and this report. It provides a very thorough context to where our services are, and was informed by her meeting a wide range of people in Herefordshire.

I’m pleased that the government minister has agreed to the Commissioner’s recommendation that we build on the work that is already underway, strengthened by extra capacity, and her continuing oversight.

The recommendations and timeline are rigorous, but these targets are my targets, and I could not be more ambitious about reaching them.

We are determined to make this turning point work for children and families across the county – they deserve nothing less"

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