It has been my privilege to steer Doncaster Children’s Services Trust through its first year. I am proud of the progress we have made in keeping children and young people safe and well, and I know this is close to many people’s hearts.
Over the months I have been inspired by the dedication of our staff, foster carers and volunteers to help our young people in care to flourish. When we celebrated our children’s achievements at an awards ceremony in April there was hardly a dry eye in the house – we’re all rooting for them.
I’ve also really valued the input of young people with experience of care who have joined my Young Advisors team. They tell it like it is, and their views are shaping the way we deliver our services in future.
The Trust was set up last October following an agreement with the Government and Doncaster Council. It is an independent organisation which delivers children’s social care on behalf of the council.
Our main objectives during the year have been to stabilise and improve existing services and to develop more effective ways to solve long-standing problems.
We want to tackle those thorny issues which can blight young people’s lives for many years. These include breaking the cycle of repeated domestic abuse within families; making sure that young people in care are supported to grow into confident, independent adults; and protecting those who are vulnerable to child sexual exploitation.
Children’s services in Doncaster have had a troubled history but things are changing. For example I know of a seven-year-old who had had eight different social workers during his time in foster care. As we have stabilised our staff team we’ve been able to make sure he can be better supported by one worker.
Over the summer we’ve been pleased to receive very positive judgements from Ofsted. They inspected four of our children’s homes, rating three as good and the fourth as outstanding. Ofsted were also impressed with our fostering and adoption services which were also rated good.
We know we’ve made a lot of progress with many of our services for children in care, but we have a lot more work to do around the rest of our services, along with our partners.
One thing is certain. We won’t be satisfied until we are offering the very best support to Doncaster’s vulnerable children and families, helping them move on to happy, successful lives.
To find out more look at our website Doncaster Children’s Trust