Statements from Paul Walker, Daryl Freeman, Cllr David Hitchiner and Cllr Toynbee
Following the Panorama programme broadcast yesterday (Monday 16 May).
I’d like to apologise again for the serious failings that have occurred in Herefordshire Children’s Services over many years. As a father, I was upset and saddened to hear of the ways we have let children and families in the county down, and as an incoming Chief Executive I made it my top priority to ensure we make the changes required, so that children and families in Herefordshire get the support they need and are entitled to.
We took immediate action to address the serious issues highlighted by last year’s judgment and we are now one year into a three-year improvement plan, recognising that such significant changes take time and investment. We have undertaken a thorough analysis of all aspects of our children’s social care practice, which has informed our decision to significantly invest in Herefordshire Children’s Services. We know that our practice and processes still need improvement in some areas and we are committed to making the changes needed to provide better services for children and families in Herefordshire. Our Social Workers continue to do their best, often in very difficult circumstances, to support families and protect vulnerable children in our community.
As we continue on our improvement journey, if you have any concerns about the way you or your family have been treated by Herefordshire Children’s Services, you can contact us at on our careconcerns webpage or or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Each day there are children in Herefordshire who need to be protected, and families who need our support. Alongside other agencies we want to be able to offer the right help at the right time, and families should be able to trust that we will get it right for them
Through our improvement activity over the past year we have reduced caseloads for our social workers and now provide better managerial support and supervision. We are working hard to make improvements so that we support all children and young people and their families during their time of need.
We will continue to listen to families and ensure our staff have the support they need as we make significant and lasting improvements to Herefordshire Children’s Services.
Corporate Director for Children and Young People
No words of apology can put right the damage our failings have caused, and I want every resident in the county to know that I am deeply sorry that this council let down families so badly.
We now have a new leadership team in place, a three-year improvement plan to deliver real change, and have pledged almost £22million of additional funding for the staff and resources we need to create a service we can all be proud of. We are determined to deliver the best possible outcomes for children and families in Herefordshire.
We will be open, transparent and honest with you in reporting the progress we are making on this improvement journey. We know the journey will be far from smooth, but we will not shy away from the challenge.
Councillor David Hitchiner
Leader, Herefordshire Council
I really feel for families who have been let down – it’s very distressing, and it’s crucial that we get things right. I am sorry that mistakes have been made by Herefordshire Council over the years. Some of the issues are long-standing, and I’m pleased we have new people in senior roles who understand the challenges and are building new ways of working.
We are now an open, learning council - we encourage staff and families to let us know how they feel and how we can work better together. As well as improving our social work practice, Herefordshire Council is working positively with local partners to help families stay together, build strong social networks and enable our children to flourish. This job must be done thoroughly, so we can get to the root of what needs to change. It is about how systems work, not just individuals, and it takes time.
Every day there are families in Herefordshire going through a crisis and needing help. I’m very proud of the compassionate, professional social workers working alongside them.
Cllr Diana Toynbee
Cabinet member – Children’s and Family Services
I would like to apologise to children and families affected by the very serious failings in our Children’s Services.
Since my arrival I have made it my top priority to ensure we make urgent changes so that children and families in Herefordshire get the quality of support they need.
We are one year into our three-year plan to improve services for children and families, by reducing caseloads for Social Workers, recruiting more staff for home visits, providing better leadership and supervision for our staff, and by modernising our systems.
We are committed to supporting families and protecting vulnerable children in our community.
If you have any concerns about the way you or your family have been treated by Herefordshire Children’s Social Care Services, you can contact us at on our careconcerns webpage or email email@example.com
Paul Walker- Chief Executive, Herefordshire Council