Tyne & Wear

Inadequate Sunderland children's services appoints new head Alex Hopkins

Alex Hopkins Image copyright Sunderland Council
Image caption Alex Hopkins has been brought in to turn children's services around

A children's services department rated inadequate for "serious and widespread failings" has appointed a new boss and been given an extra £16m funding.

Alex Hopkins, currently director of Northamptonshire, will take control of the Sunderland service in July.

Two separate case reviews in November 2015 found the council's failings may have contributed to the death of one baby and the injury of another.

A council spokeswoman said more frontline staff had also been taken on.

'Truly transform'

Last year Ofsted found the council did not respond quickly enough to concerns over a child, Baby Penny, who fell and drowned in the bath in 2014.

It also found information about risks to a child - Baby N - whose father was later convicted of neglect and ill treatment, was not properly shared.

The service is to be run by a new company and is expected to run in shadow form from September and be fully operational by April 2017.

Commissioner for children's services, Nick Whitfield, said: "Alex's success in leading the transformation in Northamptonshire has resulted in Ofsted recently finding improvement across all areas and I believe he has the ability to truly transform children's services in Sunderland."

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