‘Doncaster Council failed homeless and abused child’

Mark Douglas, Chief Operating Officer, Doncaster Children's Services Trust
Mark Douglas, Chief Operating Officer, Doncaster Children's Services Trust

Doncaster Children’s Services Trust and the council have been told that they must support young homeless people better.

A scathing report by the Local Government Ombudsman reveals that a vulnerable teenager did not receive adequate support.

The report, which was released today, is the second critical report about the services in the last two years.

In the latest case, the girl, who was aged 16 at the time, was thrown out of her home in December 2014 by her drunken mother.

Social services had been involved with the family because of her parents’ use of alcohol and drugs, allegations of domestic violence and the girl’s consequent mental health problems.

She made a homelessness application to the council and was placed in interim accommodation, where she relied on food parcels and money for food and clothing.

A social work manager later decided the girl could live with her father, despite his history of emotional abuse, and that there was no need to complete a child-in- need assessment.

In early January, she was told social services could complete an assessment if she was to be placed in foster care, but she refused.

The LGO said there were other options available but they were not explained.

By March 2015, the girl was living in a hostel and was not receiving any support from social services.

A complaint was filed to the LGO on the teenager’s behalf and an investigation found the council’s children’s services team failed to follow national guidance and its own policy on dealing with homeless young people.

Children’s Services Trust will pay the girl £2,000 and staff will also receive appropriate training.

Coun Nuala Fennelly, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “I have made clear to those involved in this case that this is not acceptable. I have also asked for reassurance that proper actions are in place.

“There have been many improvements in Doncaster’s Children’s Services over the last year, however, we must strive to ensure that the best is continually done for families and young people.”

Doncaster Children’s Services Trust chief operating officer Mark Douglas said: “Over the last 12 months we have been working to develop a new protocol which will ensure all young people in Doncaster get appropriate support. We apologise to the young person and we will work with her to ensure she has the support she needs.”