Shock as council kids’ chief is barred

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Janet Donaldson has been director of young people’s services since 2009 on a salary of £144,000, including £18,000 towards her pension.

The council has refused to comment on the surprise move.

But it comes only days after Pixley Clarke, the council’s head of children’s social care, unexpectedly parted company with the council, ending her £82,000-a-year contract.

The children and young people’s directorate has come in for considerable criticism during the past two years because of its failings in relation to child protection, and has been issued with an official Government Notice to Improve.

Inspectors and auditors issued damning reports which showed that some children had been left at “significant risk of harm” over many years and experts in the field recently visited Calderdale to check on improvements.

Their verbal feedback indicated that children were now safer than they had been but their written feedback is believed to have been less complimentary.

That report is due to be put to the Calderdale Improvement Board on November 15.

Janet Donaldson was the executive director for children and young people’s services at Oldham Council until her job was scrapped as part of a restructuring exercise.

Within weeks of coming to Calderdale she described children’s social care services as “unacceptable” and she suspended some staff pending a thorough review of management practices.

Council leaders were told this week that the cost of looking after children in Calderdale who are “at risk” of harm or neglect is now £2.5 million more than planned.

That has been caused to some extent by the number of youngsters in council care going up from 324 in March to 363 at the end of September.

In a report to the cabinet on Monday, Ms Donaldson said: “Our performance is now in line with similar councils in terms of the percentages of children under 18 who are looked after.”

The council is also struggling to recruit 90 extra foster parents and more permanent social workers.

Ms Donaldson is also ultimately responsible for family support, education and school support services.