Herefordshire Council has been hit with an Improvement notice from the Government after a judge blasted its children's services.

The notice from the Department for Education follows significant concerns raised in a recent High Court judgement which led to an urgent and thorough external review of Herefordshire Children’s Social Care Services.

The improvement notice includes the appointment of Gladys Rhodes White as an improvement adviser for a minimum of 12 months, and until such time that the Secretary of State is satisfied that she is no longer required.

Mrs Rhodes White will provide advice to Children’s Social Care Services and Herefordshire Council, and she will chair the improvement board which is being established from the beginning of June 2021.

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Paul Walker, the newly appointed chief executive of the council welcome the appointment, and said: "Mrs Rhodes White is an outstanding leader with substantial expertise and skills in transforming and improving services and outcomes for children and families.

"I will work closely with Gladys and Cath Knowles, our interim director of children’s services, to address the serious issues identified by the High Court judgement and Department for Education improvement notice and to deliver a sustainable and improved children’s services department.

“We take full accountability for the failings of our children’s social care services and we will make much-needed changes to our culture and practices.

"Our interim director of children’s services continues to lead the improvements to our children’s social care services.

"Our social workers continue to do their best, often in very difficult circumstances, to support families and protect vulnerable children in our community.

"Under the new leadership, we will strive to ensure we offer Herefordshire children, and their families, the highest level of care and support possible."

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A review of Children’s Social Care services is underway to understand and address any failings and immediate actions are being taken to deal with any serious concerns.

Herefordshire Council continues to offer residents the opportunity to report a concern following their experience with its Children’s Social Care services.

A dedicated team, led by the interim director of children’s services, is working through these concerns.

While the council seeks to understand the full extent of past decisions made within children’s services it admitted it may find further instances that do not meet the required standards.

It comes after the High Court judge condemned Herefordshire Council for what he described as some of the most “egregious and long-standing failures” he had ever encountered in his professional life.

Mr Justice Keehan questioned whether the council’s children’s services were fit for purpose after failures spanning more than eight years compounded the emotional and psychological harm children in care suffered.

Four children were placed with local authority foster carers in 2012 but the council since failed to promote contact between the children and their mother.

The local authority failed to use a fact-finding court judgement as a basis for challenging and changing the children’s distorted perceptions of their family.

And they also failed to manage the foster placement properly and to ensure the children’s emotional needs were met.

The local authority failed to take any sufficient steps to preserve the children’s sense of identity with and connection to their family.