Norfolk Children’s Services boss quits

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Norfolk County Council’s director of Children’s Services has quit the role following criticism of her department.

Lisa Christensen, 56, will retire from the authority from July 18, having served in her current role since 2005. She first joined the council in 2002 as director of social services.

She said: “It has been a privilege to have worked in Norfolk for 11 years through a period marked by fundamental and continuing policy changes and increasing financial stringency for the public sector.

“I have been proud, and lucky, to have worked alongside colleagues in the county council and throughout the public and voluntary sectors in Norfolk, and nationally, whose dedication to achieving better outcomes for children and young people is evident every day.”

Ms Christensen’s departure follows a report fromOfsted in February which criticised the poor state of child protection and a lack of support for vulnerable children in Norfolk.

All nine Norfolk MPs followed by releasing a statement saying there was a ‘lack of leadership’ at the county council’s Children’s Services department.

Ms Christensen said she hoped her decision wouldhelp the council to improve.

“I have always believed constructive analysis based on facts to be essential for healthy and accountable public services.

“I hope my decision to leave the county council now, secure int he knowledge that it is in a good position to move forward positively, will enable my talented, and dedicated colleagues to move forward without the distraction of continued critical media attention which is in danger of sapping morale and compromising the very work we are engaged in,” she said.

She will receive two months salary in lieu of notice, totalling £23,248.

The council will also make a one-off compensatory payment to the Norfolk Pension Fund of £116,398. This is a payment to the fund, rather than Ms Christensen.

Cllr James Joyce, cabinet member for safeguarding, said he thought Ms Christensen’s decision was ‘the right one’.

“On behalf of the authority, I thank Lisa for her very hard work on behalf of all of Norfolk’s children and young people over the last eight years - a period during which we have seen improvements in many key areas of the service that she is responsible for,” he said.