Set up of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust reaches final stages

Doncaster's  Civic Offices.
Doncaster's Civic Offices.

The implementation of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust has now entered its final stages.

A week today (Wednesday, September 17) the Council’s Cabinet will consider the draft contract, which will lay out the services delivered by the Trust as well as its financial arrangements.

They will also be asked to authorise Jo Miller, the Council’s Chief Executive, to finalise and sign the contract in consultation with Mayor Ros Jones later this month.

Doncaster Council was told last year it was to be stripped of children’s services due to a ‘legacy of failure’ and the new Doncaster Children’s Services Trust is scheduled to become operational on October 1.

“We were set a challenging timescale to get the Trust up and running for the start of October and a concerted effort has been made to meet that date.”

We have made considerable progress across a range of Council services that will either be transferred to the Trust or have supported its development,” said Jo Miller, Chief Executive of Doncaster Council.

“Mayor Jones agreed with the Secretary of State for Education to establish an independent Trust, rather than remove children’s services entirely, to provide the freedom needed to accelerate the improvements being made in the service and to develop an approach that would best suit Doncaster’s children and families.

“Negotiations are at an advanced stage as we close in on the launch of this landmark delivery model which will offer innovative services that are in the best interests of our children, young people and families,” added Ms Miller.

Board members have been recruited and Paul Moffat has already started as the Trust’s Chief Executive.

The transfer of around 450 council staff has begun, which is a similar number to what exists currently,

The location of the Trust’s headquarters in the Blue Building in the town centre has been agreed and senior Trust staff moved there last month.

Following direction from the Secretary of State, the trust will see the vast majority of the current children’s and young people’s social care services transferred across.

This includes safeguarding children in need, looked after children, care leavers, unaccompanied asylum seekers, youth offending and support service functions.

There will be joint working with the council in certain areas of this work.

Services for children with disabilities will remain with the Council.

Education related services and areas like children’s centres and youth centres which fall under the remit of commissioning and performance will stay with the council.

The council will remain statutorily responsible for all of the services delivered by the trust and a service contract will set out the expected quality standards and the required improvement.

The trust will have a 10 year term to improve services, with a review scheduled after five years.

Performance targets will also be regularly monitored and reviewed by the council with the Trust’s services needing to be judged ‘good’ against Ofsted criteria by October 2017 and ‘outstanding’ by October 2019.

The council will contribute £41.6million towards the Trust’s annual £47million budget.

This is the sum allocated in the Council’s budget to the delivery of the services being transferred. The balance will be met by the Department for Education (DfE) and partners of the Trust.

The DfE will meet the additional costs of setting up and operating the Trust, but with the Trust being an independent organisation and having no financial history, the Council will provide appropriate cash flow arrangements to enable the Trust to pay for services that the Council once provided.