Haringey's action plan to protect children unveiled

PUBLISHED: 15:31 12 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:55 07 September 2010

Charlotte Newton HARINGEY Council has published an action plan detailing how agencies in the borough will improve children's services, following the Baby P tragedy. In the same week that Sharon Shoesmith, the sacked head of children s services, defended h

Charlotte Newton

HARINGEY Council has published an action plan detailing how agencies in the borough will improve children's services, following the Baby P tragedy.

In the same week that Sharon Shoesmith, the sacked head of children's services, defended herself publicly for the first time since she was dismissed by Ed Balls in December, the new director of children's services, Peter Lewis, published a response to the Joint Area Review.

The document recommends closer working between social workers, police officers and health staff; recruiting and developing quality staff; putting more resources into safeguarding children; and providing administrative support to free social workers.

It also recommends more joint visits by social workers and other professionals such as health visitors and police officers; improvements to the medical monitoring of children subject to a protection plan and the better sharing of information; and new procedures to resolve any disagreements between professionals.

Mr Lewis wrote: "As well as responding to the specific points identified by OFSTED, the plan sets out the framework for a journey that will take three years as we progress from inadequate to satisfactory and on to be at least 'good' if not 'excellent'."

Schools minister Mr Balls demanded the action plan in response to the Joint Area Review he commissioned in November.

This examined the circumstances of Baby P's death, and the role of social services, the police and health authority in the case.

Baby P, a 17-month old boy, died a horrific death in August 2007 at the hands of his mother, her lover and their lodger, despite being seen 60 times by health professionals and social workers.

The report into his death found that there were "significant weaknesses in safeguarding children and child protection arrangements in Haringey".

At the time the review was published, there were 191 children in Haringey with a child protection plan, and 450 children in the borough living in care.

The review recommended that the council, police and Haringey TPCT should take steps to integrate their services and work more effectively together.

Its findings also led to Ms Shoesmith's sacking, the resignation of council leader George Meehan and cllr Liz Santry, cabinet member for children and young people.

Cllr Lorna Reith, who took over from Ms Santry, said: "We are making major improvements so that Haringey is an exemplar for safeguarding children.

"This will take time, but changes are already being made.

"Children and their safety must be at the heart of our work.

"Everyone who works with children has a responsibility for their welfare."

But Cllr Robert Gorrie, leader of the Lib Dem opposition questioned where the additional funding would come from.

At the full council meeting on Monday, the Labour group approved a last-minute amendment, adding £260,000 costs to its £4.8million budget for 2009 to 2010.

This will be used to alleviate child poverty, tackle anti-social behaviour and environmental problems.

Cllr Gorrie said: "Here again, there is no indication of how the additional services and action plan will be paid for:

"The JAR response would seem to indicate that there are a lot of actions that need to taken.

"The question is where are the resources to both take this action and look after our vulnerable children?

A spokesman for the council said the draft plan would be presented to the council's overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday (February 17) before going to the cabinet for approval.

The final version of the plan will be submitted to Children's Secretary Ed Balls at the end of the month.

A spokesman for the council said: "Work on the resourcing for the plan is still going on at the council and with the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

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