Tide turning on Bay's children's services department - and Nancy makes a difference

Head and shoulders of council official

Making a difference: Nancy Meehan - Credit: Torbay Council

Torbay’s beleaguered children's services department is at last moving in the right direction. 

The service has constantly overspent to the tune of millions of pounds and was put in special measures with a government-appointed commissioner brought in. 

But following Children’s Services Commissioner Nigel Richardson’s update report to Vicky Ford, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, the tide is turning. 

The appointment of Nancy Meehan as director of the department, is being singled out as one of the main reasons for the transformation. 

Vicky Ford says in a letter to the council: “The report presents an encouraging picture with the steps the council has taken on its improvement journey. It is clear that the recruitment and retention of an experienced change leader in Nancy Meehan has made a significant difference – as have other changes, such as, in the Commissioner’s words, the ‘renewed cross-party political determination to put right the long standing and severe failures within Children’s services.” 

She said it was also ‘reassuring’ that Ofsted were also encouraged by what they saw in Torbay in their Monitoring Visit last year, believing there was a very long way to go but firm foundations were now being put into place. 

She added: “I am also encouraged by the Commissioner’s assessment which backs this up, and that there is a new enthusiasm and developing vision to put children and families at the heart of Torbay’s wider regeneration strategy. His confident appraisal that Torbay does have the leadership capacity and capability to retain control of its children’s social care services shows how much progress has been made.” 

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Council leader Steve Darling accepted: “We know we have a long way to go to get Children Services in Torbay in the right place.” 

But he added: “This letter confirms the hard work that is being put in by officers, councillors and partners to turn this service around. By having a firm management grip of this service we’ve achieved over £4 million worth of savings in this financial year. We’re optimistic that in the next few weeks Torbay will be taking out of special measures.”