A COUNCIL is to introduce more safeguards for children receiving care in Darlington.

Today, members of Darlington Borough Council's cabinet will be recommended to introduce charges to independent fostering and child-care agencies for safeguard checks.

The checks will involve the council undertaking pre-employment investigations for the agencies in respect of potential carers in Darlington.

Councillors will be told that the new measures will help to avoid potential situations in which a child is placed with unsuitable carers.

Guidance received from the Association of Directors of Social Services recommends that the charge to agencies should be £95 for the full range of checks to be undertaken.

The checks involve a search for criminal records, clients' record check and a search of the Protection of Children Act list.

At present, the agencies which would use the service do not have direct access to criminal record checks and have to go through a local authority.

Darlington council said it had decided to charge for the service because it would need to employ extra staff to undertake the work.