‘Lack of communication’ put vulnerable toddler at risk

Councillor Heather Smith
Councillor Heather Smith

The county’s chief of children’s services has admitted the department was ‘on the floor’ when it failed a vulnerable two-year-old who was sexually abused by her mum.

A leaked investigation has shown how Northants County Council put the girl at risk because of a string of botched sessions with her abusive mother.

The reports came out in a letter provided by the girl’s foster parents, to highlight the council’s poor practices in the run-up to its damning Ofsted report in 2013.

The report said the council failed to keep the foster parents informed of where the girl was.

The girl had to be put into a taxi to go to meet her mother but a report from October 2013 revealed that taxi drivers could not produce ID.

That meant the girl would often get in a car with a stranger.

Her mum would regularly not turn up, but the girl would not return to her foster parents’ house for several hours.

Heather Smith, cabinet member for children’s services, said the ‘lack of communication’ was due to a ‘high turnover of agency staff’.

She said: “Some would just walk out the door without handing over their cases properly.

“It is only now that I can say the service is improving with a degree of confidence.”

Mrs Smith said the council is now focusing on improving its ‘looked-after children’ services and has increased its workforce.