Doncaster council unaware action was not taken to help homeless girl

Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP 16-02-15 MC 3
Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP 16-02-15 MC 3

More must be done to protect vulnerable children after the council failed to support a homeless teenager, says the Mayor of Doncaster.

A scathing report by the Local Government Ombudsman revealed the 16-year-old girl did not receive adequate support from the council or Doncaster Children’s Service’s Trust when she was thrown out of her home in December 2014.

The latest report, published last month, is the second critical publication about the services in two years.

In March 2014, the ombudsman found the council had failed another child in similar circumstances. They agreed protocols would be changed, but Mayor Ros Jones said the cabinet had been kept in the dark about exactly what was being done to improve services.

She said: “We now wish to be informed that all protocols are being followed.

“We need reassurance that what’s put in place works for the safety of our children.

“There may need to be random audits carried out to check they are being followed. We need to ensure that this does not happen again.”

Coun Joe Blackham said: “It’s totally unacceptable, but it’s even more unacceptable that we didn’t know anything about it until a decision had been made. We were assured in March 2014 that protocols would be put in place to ensure this never happened again, but in a short amount of time it did happen again. Had those protocols been actioned at the time we would not be where we are now.”

In the latest case, the girl, who has not been named, made a homelessness application to the council in December 2014 and was placed in interim accommodation.

A social work manager later decided the girl could live with her father, despite his history of emotional abuse, and said there was no need to complete a child-in – need assessment.

By March 2015, the girl was living in a hostel and was not receiving any support from social services.

A complaint was filed to the LGO and an investigation found the council’s children’s services team failed to follow national guidance and its own policy.

Children’s Services Trust chief operating officer Mark Douglas said: “We have been working to develop a new protocol which will ensure all young people get appropriate support. We apologise to the young person.”

Children’s Services Trust have paid the girl £2,000 and staff will receive appropriate training within 12 months.