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Social services 'improved' after three children killed

Fife Council has increased social work, health visitor and child protection staff numbers.

By STV News

Published 23 Aug 2017.

The head of social services at Fife Council insists support for vulnerable children and families has improved since the deaths of three children.

The department has been under scrutiny after Liam Fee, Mikaeel Kular and Madison Horn were killed in their own homes.

A report into a three-year review of child protection is due to be discussed by councillors next week.

The children died after they or their families had involvement with the local authority or the criminal justice system.

Liam, two, who was murdered by his mother and her partner in March 2014, was on the social work radar before his death in Thornton.

Three-year-old Mikael had been in foster care in Fife before being returned to his mother who later killed him in Edinburgh in January 2014.

Madison was murdered by her mother's boyfriend in Kelty aged two in April the same year.

A review found her death could not have been anticipated but said lessons could be learned.

The man who killed her, Kevin Park, was a known domestic abuser with a history of violence.

Fife Council said changes have been made after significant case reviews were held into the deaths.

Chief social work officer Dougie Dunlop said there had been an increase in social workers, health visitors and child protection staff.

Mr Dunlop said: "We are continually improving our processes and regularly review the quality of services to families.

"This includes listening to feedback from those who use our services along with careful examination and checking of case files to make sure families are getting the help they need and that services are working together as effectively as possible."

He continued: "Improvements put in place over the last three years across all services include the recruitment of more social workers, health visitors and child protection staff to increase capacity, the introduction of new processes to support joint working across all partners such as the Child Wellbeing Pathway, improved shared case recording and staff training.

"We have clear evidence of improving practice and we will continue to evaluate, improve and work together to keep children safe."

Committee convener councillor Fay Sinclair said: "It's reassuring to see the range of measures in place to monitor and evaluate child protection work.

"Our staff in these services do an extremely difficult job, often in harrowing circumstances and their support can make a real difference to the lives of children and their families."