A SOCIAL worker missed meetings with a family and made significant factual mistakes, due to a “chaotic” and short-staffed children’s services department. 

In a recently revealed investigation, the local government ombudsman catalogued the errors made and detailed what the family has gone through over the past five years. 

It began in 2015, when the the father — who the ombudsman calls Mr C — drunkenly attacked the mother, Mrs C. Police cautioned him and said if there were further concerns, children’s services should get involved. 

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Two years later, one of the daughters told her school she was “fearful” of her father, because of his drinking. A social worker then got involved after the school told West Berkshire Council. 

However, the social worker “missed various appointments and was away for long periods”. She also made significant factual mistakes in reports she wrote about the family. 

The two teenage daughters gave statements on how they were concerned about their father’s drinking. But when these were typed up by the social worker, they again contained mistakes.

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The children’s services department told Mrs C that a meeting would be “probably be postponed”. That meeting went ahead on schedule, with visibly rushed notes. 

Reports about the family incorrectly claimed they were short of money as Mr C didn’t work — when in fact he did and the family was well off.

The council blamed the mistakes on a “chaotic” children’s services department, which was then short staffed. Bosses had to remind social workers “about minimum standards” and encouraged them to “treat families with respect”. 

The council later apologised to the family for its poor service and communication, assigned a new social worker, and paid Mrs C £250. 

Councillor Dominic Boeck (Con, Aldermaston), lead for children, young people and education, said: “We have accepted the ombudsman’s findings and implemented their recommendations.

 “It is important to note that this complaint was not upheld in a number of key areas and there was no fault found in relation to our records or the actions taken to ensure the protection of children, which is our ultimate priority.

“Our professional decision-making was sound. We also welcome the ombudsman’s finding that our complaint handling was diligent and thorough.

“However, at the time of the complaint we had just been inspected by Ofsted and knew we needed to improve. We accept there was a lapse in communication and some administrative delays by the team at the time in this case and we are sorry for this. We went on a two year journey and have since rectified the issues this family may have experienced.

“We gave a payment of £250 to the family as a goodwill gesture and for any inconvenience caused. The ombudsman considered this appropriate. A new protocol was also introduced for the team in 2018 as a result of the complaint.”