Drive to recruit the best staff as new era for children’s services gets underway in Doncaster

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THE CHIEF executive of a ground-breaking Trust set up to improve children’s services in Doncaster hopes it will help attract the best social workers to the town.

Doncaster Children’s Services Trust (DCST), which begins work today, has been set up to drive up standards in the way children are protected in the town in the wake of a string of criticism.

The Trust is the first of its kind in the country.

One of the major challenges facing the town in recent years has been attracting and keeping the staff needed to improve standards.

Last year Doncaster Council spent £4.2 million on agency workers as it tried to cope with the number of children needing its help and struggled to attract staff.

DCST chief executive Paul Moffat said in his experience recruiting the best staff was not just about pay.

He said: “For frontline staff, especially in the current climate, what was really important for them was the size of their caseloads, it was the level of supervision and the quality of the supervision and the management oversight.

“Those are the things we are going to be focused on.” He added: “I think historically, Doncaster has had a challenge with recruitment.”

DCST is a not-for-profit organisation that will operate under a 10-year contract covering the majority of work involving children including safeguarding vulnerable youngsters and children in care.

The way children are protected in Doncaster has been the subject of intense scrutiny for more than five years culminating in an Ofsted report in 2012 that described child protection in the town as inadequate.

Then Education Secretary Michael Gove ordered an inquiry which recommended that children’s services be separated from the council structure.

Negotiations between the authority and the Government led to the agreement to create DCST.

Children’s Minister Edward Timpson said: “This is a radical new way of delivering improvements and one that I’m excited to see develop.”