PRESSURE is growing on councillors to be more pro-active towards looking after children in care.
But first they must all be police checked, so that they can visit children’s homes and social work offices.
They should also start attending corporate parenting panel meetings regularly so that they fully understand their responsibilities, according to the social care review group, which was set up in the wake of the Calderdale safeguarding scandal.
In its initial inquiry report, the group has suggested councillors try to recruit foster parents from within their wards to help cut the growing cost of care home placements.
They could also be asked to sign a Looked After Children “Pledge” at a public event which takes place in front of the children in their care.
Some have already signed it but many signatures are indecipherable, according to the report presented to Calderdale Council’s children and young people’s scrutiny panel by chairman Colin Raistrick.
“The review process has been a positive experience for everyone involved and we hope our recommendations will be adopted by the council as a whole in February,” said Coun Raistrick (Ind, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe).
The council was served with an official notice to improve due to its lack lustre attempts over several years to ensure children in care are properly looked after and because safeguarding work in the community was not up to scratch.
It has had to cope with a growing number of children who can’t live with their parents – up from 324 in March to 375 in November.
The crisis in children’s social care has been blamed for the suspension and then resignation of Janet Donaldson, the council’s £140,000 a year director of children and young people’s services.
Although the social care review group has recommended more use is made of improvement advice from other councils, the scrutiny panel has decided to exclude two education professionals from its membership and two other independent members.
Members of the Calderdale Safeguarding Young Advisory Board are helping the council to re-design the independent Safeguarding Children Board website – making it easier for professionals, parents, carers and children to use.
Board member Sam Mitchell said it was important that young people are involved in helping agencies to improve their services.
The board advises the Safeguarding Board by checking updated documents, ensuring that they are user friendly and jargon free so that they can be easily understood.