Page last updated at 17:46 GMT, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 18:46 UK

Children's services plan approved

The council is setting up a board to monitor the department's work

Councillors in Doncaster have approved a report outlining improvements to be made to the council's Children and Young People's Services department.

The government-ordered report came after an Ofsted inspection which found it was inadequate and not enough children had allocated social workers.

Serious case reviews were also ordered into the deaths of seven children in the area since 2004.

A union said the report was "a list of aspirations" which lacked detail.

The Ofsted report, which was published in December 2008, said of the 317 children on the local protection register, one in four had not been allocated a social worker.

It also said that most of the town's children's homes failed to meet minimum national standards.

The improvement report says a Children's Trust Board will now be set up to monitor the department.

It's fine to have a plan, but it needs to be more than a list of aspirations
Robin Symonds, Unison

Other measures in include compiling monthly progress reports and allocating a social worker to every child on the council's protection register.

The council also said it would increase the number of children who are placed with family and friends.

The council's director of children's services Nick Jarman said: "The improvement plan begins by committing us to creating a children's service which is modern, efficient and responsive.

"It has been endorsed by central government, the council and all of its partner agencies.

"The plan directly addresses all of the shortcomings that were identified in Doncaster's children's services, and based upon expert advice drawn from what is known to work well nationally. "

Robin Symonds, regional organiser for Unison which represents some council workers, said: "Improvements have been made in some areas but in other areas the picture is still one of high caseloads, high levels of stress and sickness absence.

"It's fine to have a plan, but it needs to be more than just a list of aspirations, which is what this plan appears to be. It needs substance."

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