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Children's services at Birmingham City Council to be run by voluntary trust

Published 24/05/2016

The children's department at Birmingham City Council has been called a
The children's department at Birmingham City Council has been called a "national disgrace"

The children's services department at one of the country's biggest councils is to be run by a voluntary trust following years of criticism.

The department at Birmingham City Council has previously been labelled a "national disgrace" by Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw.

Previous high-profile cases of child deaths in the Midlands city, including those of two-year-old Keanu Williams in 2011 and seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq in 2008, had led to the department and other agencies coming under fire.

Now the authority has announced a voluntary trust will run the department under a "new model" which will put "social workers at its centre".

The Government appointed Lord Norman Warner to drive a three-year improvement plan at the council's children's services in 2014, and the authority said "expected progress has been made".

In a statement, the council said: "This is something we have been discussing for some time with the Department for Education and this is the next logical step on our improvement journey."

A final decision on the plans will be taken by the cabinet at Birmingham City Council at a future date.

The announcement has been brought forward ahead of a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation into the department.

The show - due to air on Thursday at 10pm - shows "a troubling picture of chaos, low staff morale and confused decision making on how to handle serious cases where children could be at risk", the channel said.

The council said it acknowledged the "historic and well-publicised failings" of the children's services department and was committed to improving.

Meanwhile, the NSPCC said the council must focus on keeping its current staff on the books in the department.

A spokesman for the charity added: "Young people have ultimately been the ones to suffer most from the pitiful failures in children's services at Birmingham City Council.

"A lack of consistency in the support offered to children has meant a breakdown of trust in the very system which was supposed to be their lifeline.

"Concerted efforts must now be made to improve staff retention rates and - most importantly of all - ensure the most vulnerable members of society are protected."

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