The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has called for assurances that children in Neath Port Talbot are being properly protected following a critical report by the Social Services Inspectorate and the rumoured departure of the Council’s Head of Childrens’ Service,
Mr. Black has written to the Neath Port Talbot’s Director of Social Services setting out his concerns about the performance of the council’s Children and Young People Service. His letter arises after having been approached by a number of concerned constituents, including professionals who work with children, who have set out their own complaints about the way that the Children and Young People Service works.
Mr. Black had previously met with the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Social Services after working with a constituent on a child protection matter, whose experience of Neath Port Talbot's Childrens' Service raised many questions about how that section operates, its processes and the way that they manage risk
Mr. Black said:
“This is the second time in as many months that I have felt obliged to raise my concerns about Neath Port Talbot’s Children and Young People Service publically. I do not do so lightly. However a meeting with a professional, who cares for children in Neath Port Talbot recently, highlighted additional concerns that reinforced the experience of a constituent I had been helping.
“These matters included an alleged lack of continuity in terms of keeping the same social worker, the quality and timeliness of interventions, the size of caseloads, and a lack of joined-up working. These issues are all too familiar from an on-going complaint that I and my staff have been dealing with since July 2011.
“Vulnerable children and families in Neath Port Talbot must be protected and helped. It is vital that immediate steps are taken to get to the root of the problems in Neath Port Talbot Children and Young People Service and put them right urgently. Changing the head of service is not enough, there needs to be full and on-going scrutiny of the department and immediate changes in practice.
“The independent Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales has already said that they have identified a number of factors which 'impact on the authority's ability to provide a safe, high quality responsive service.' Continuity of care, a settled workforce and a full overhaul of the way that staff work must be the first priorities for reform of the service.”