Staffing anomaly risk at children’s homes

Statements: Coun Megan Swift
Statements: Coun Megan Swift

CHILDREN could have been put at risk in care homes run by Calderdale Council due to a lack of staff, according to a report.

In addition, “poor budgetary controls” might mean the council failed to achieve good value for money.

The problems were spotted by eagle-eyed auditors who found that looking after children in the four homes cost from £167 to £188 a night.

The actual amount spent on residential social workers far exceeded the budget, which was actually reduced last year.

Three of the homes cater for five young people each and one provides day care and overnight breaks for a maximum of seven, aged from four to 18.

Auditors drafted a report on staffing and finance in December but the weaknesses and anomalies they uncovered have only just been revealed and acted on.

One of the key findings was that the Statement of Purpose for each home was not kept up to date and was not approved by councillors.

Auditors found: “A lack of correlation between the different sources of information with regards to the required and actual staffing levels – actual staffing cover was not in line with the requirements of the statement.”

As a result, there was a risk to residents from possible inappropriate levels of staffing.

Last week the cabinet approved new 25-page statements for the homes.

Councillor Megan Swift (Lab, Town), who has responsibility for children’s social care, said the public documents would be subject to scrutiny by Ofsted and residents.

“It is intended that the quality of the statement reflects the quality of care that is offered,” she said.

Councillor Swift said she did not believe that any children had been put “at risk”.