CHILDREN’S SERVICES in Wokingham is ‘moving in the right direction’ after concerns had been raised about the department’s performance at the start of the year.

In February, the News reported two out of every five visits to see children on protection plans occurred over the council’s 10-day target limit.

Latest figures have not yet been published detailing Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC) performance in this area from January to March, but Sarah Sesay, performance manager for social care at the council, claimed “performance has improved”.

She continued: “I can say there have been subsequent incremental improvements. This is the main indicator for children’s social care at the moment. It’s monitored daily and the teams have been putting a lot of effort into ensuring this target is met.

“We had a small improvement in quarter three, and we monitor this very regularly. We have weekly reports going out to the teams and week on week it is going up bit by bit. We are moving in the right direction for this one.”

A month before these figures were discussed, councillors had quizzed children’s services officers on reports children’s casework was not up to date.

Department director Carol Cammiss claimed backlogs had occurred due to an increase in demand for care, adding: “What goes first is that recording, because the social workers want to see the children.”

However, Ms Sesay said social workers were working hard to improve performance in this area, too.

She said: “Obviously they are visiting children all the time but also ensuring this is recorded on our computer system which they have been reporting to us as their main barrier, having time to sit at a computer and record intel and tell us about it. The teams have been putting a lot of effort into this.”

The council is putting £1 million towards funding additional social workers for the children’s services department.

This comes as figures show the turnover of social workers at WBC increased up to December, with 30 per cent of staff leaving the workforce and being replaced within the last year against a target of 16 per cent.

A report produced for the council read: “The service is aware of the importance of a stable

social work workforce, and is taking action to address this. A workforce development

strategy is being further developed to focus on the retention of our best staff.”

Councillors met on Monday, March 25, to hear about the work going on in the department.