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Council to take first children’s services trust back in-house

Doncaster Council is to take its children’s services trust arm’s-length management company back in house.

A report to the council’s cabinet said this step had been taken by mutual agreement and would take effect by 30 September.

It said transferring services to the council, would “help simplify processes and align service delivery to the wider council services and wider partnership.

“Where services between the trust and the council are closely aligned, better outcomes are evidenced for children and young people.”

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There would though be a hybrid delivery model acting as an in-house ‘ring fenced’ operation to “enable the testing of the efficacy of culture and provide an opportunity to drive practice improvement at pace with minimal disruption”. 

The trust was set up on Government instructions in November 2013 after failings in the children’s service, which had been placed under government supervision after seven deaths over a five-year period.

It received an ‘inadequate’ judgement in 2015, though rose to ‘good’ in November 2017.

“It is believed that one joint offer of services for families provides better outcomes rather than the current model where families perceive services are delivered across two organisations,” the report said.

"Examples of this are ‘early help’ and services to children leaving care including the virtual school and education and employment services. More recently, relationships have supported a one-team approach and it is hoped that these early developments can be further built upon and strengthened.”

Riana Nelson, the council’s director of learning, skills, opportunities and culture, said: “Like many other frontline services, children’s social care has been significantly impacted by the pandemic and it is vital that we react to these changes quickly and efficiently to ensure that we are in a position to support our children to achieve the best possible outcomes.”

Ms Nelson added: “We do understand that many staff will feel concerned about this proposed transition and we will be holding detailed discussions with them so that they understand what will be happening and the far reaching benefits this transition can bring.”

Tony Hunter, chair of the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust board, said: “We have seen the benefits of bringing the council and trust together during the recent rapid improvement work, combining our commitment and passion for children and young people has seen significant developments in frontline services over the past six months particularly.

“I am immensely proud of our staff’s dedication and commitment in the most challenging of times. However, quite simply, the reasons why the trust had to be set up eight years ago no longer apply, and now is the time to draw services together under the council’s leadership.”

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