A former social services director and advisor to the Scottish government has been named as the new independent chairman of the county’s Local Safeguarding Children Board Northamptonshire (LSBCN).
Keith Makin has also previously worked as chief executive of a company providing children’s residential, fostering and intensive intervention services and is a former director of social services at Dumfries and Galloway Council.
Mr Makin, who chairs safeguarding children’s boards in Southampton and Merton, said: “Northamptonshire is a county with a rich and varied diversity of populations in both rural and urban areas and this presents a number of differing challenges and opportunities.
“Because I chair two other LSCBs in very different places, a small unitary area and a London borough, I’m hoping that I can bring learning from these that can be transferred to Northamptonshire and vice versa.
“Although Northamptonshire has been subject to a number of critical inspections, there is a real spirit of change with the partners very committed to the task so I am confident that the necessary improvements can be made.
“My immediate priority will be to make sure that everyone is on board with the changes planned and that includes helping frontline staff to feel supported and engaging children and young people in the processes of change, making sure that their voices are heard and listened to.
“I also see the speed of change as a priority, we need to not only bring about changes but do so quickly enough to make a difference.
“I’m encouraged by quite a number of positives. There’s a very well set-up improvement board, a good improvement plan, and committed senior leaders from all partner agencies.”
As the chairman of the LSCBN, his role will be to ensure all organisations and agencies involved in safeguarding work together effectively.
Labour leader on the county council John McGhee said: “I’m pleased that we now have an independent chair in place to help us in driving forward the improvement plan.
“Keith has vast experience of working in social care and health. We understand that he is passionate about promoting person-centred approaches.
“We hope this will help him to guarantee staff are listened to and heard and their concerns acted upon. We also want him to focus on ensuring that the child’s voice is at the heart of children’s social work cases.”
The LSCBN co-ordinates child protection work by all agencies in the county and challenges their performance to make sure they are carrying out their responsibilities. It exists to make sure that all organisations in the county who work with children and families are cooperating to protect children and young people.
As well as holding the county’s organisations and agencies to account, the LSCBN runs training programme and develops policies and procedures for the whole county.
In October, inspectors from Ofsted described the standard of child protection at Northamptonchire County Council as being “unacceptable poor”.