Cabinet to consider the future of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust
Doncaster Council’s Cabinet will be meeting next week (30 March) to discuss the proposal to serve notice by mutual agreement to the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust Arms Length Management Company (ALMO) and transfer the provision of children’s social care services into the council.
Riana Nelson, Doncaster Council’s Director of Learning, Skills, Opportunities and Culture, said: “Like many other frontline services, children’s social care has been significantly impacted by the pandemic and it is vital that we react to these changes quickly and efficiently to ensure that we are in a position to support our children to achieve the best possible outcomes. We have been working very closely and successfully with the Trust on a rapid improvement plan since October 2021, which has allowed us to make some significant progress in important areas such as our Early Help offer. In order to take this to the next level what we now need is to be able to adapt and improve at an even quicker pace and we do not want to be impeded by a working model that could potentially slow down our aspirations for children across the borough.
“We do understand that many staff will feel concerned about this proposed transition and we will be holding detailed discussions with them so that they understand what will be happening and the far reaching benefits this transition can bring. The leadership teams at the council and the Trust are exceptionally proud to have such a dedicated workforce and we will continue to engage with staff throughout this process.”
Rebecca Wilshire, Director of Children’s Social Care and Acting Chief Executive at Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, said: “As always, our utmost priority is to protect our vulnerable children and our staff remain committed to doing the best for Doncaster children, young people and their families. This has never been more evident than in the past two years where colleagues have worked tirelessly to continue to deliver services, at times putting themselves, and their families, at risk. The opportunity to transfer our services within the council will enable us to build upon and strengthen the work taking place and ultimately provide the best support for children and families in Doncaster.”
Tony Hunter, Chair of the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust Board, added: “Over the last few years the council and the children’s trust have been working more and more closely together, most recently during the extreme pressures of COVID, the 2019 floods, the rising need for services and the growing financial pressures across the country. We have seen the benefits of bringing the council and Trust together during the recent rapid improvement work, combining our commitment and passion for children and young people has seen significant developments in frontline services over the past six months particularly. I am immensely proud of our staff’s dedication and commitment in the most challenging of times. However, quite simply, the reasons why the Trust had to be set up eight years ago no longer apply, and now is the time to draw services together under the council’s leadership. This is the best way of working in fully joined up ways which help Doncaster’s children, young people and families live best possible lives and achieve their full potential.”
If Cabinet agree to the recommendation then notice will be served on the Trust and the transfer of services will begin from 1 April 2022. The following six months will involve extensive staff consultation and engagement, along with trade union representatives, with the aim for all services to be fully integrated within the council by September 2022. There will be no loss of jobs, as all posts will be transferred to the council as the new employer.
Debbie Hogg, Doncaster Council’s Director of Corporate Resources, said: “Not only will this transition enable significant improvements to services, but there will also be considerable financial benefits. Doncaster Council is well-run financially and we have a duty to ensure money is spent effectively and efficiently. The realignment of the services will deliver lower overheads to ensure spend is directed to front line delivery.”
The Cabinet report is available to read on the council's website here https://doncaster.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=131&MId=3701