Department still requires improvement according to the inspectors
Wandsworth Council’s children’s services is no longer rated as inadequate after a new inspection by OSFTED.
A previous inspection in December 2015 judged the local authority to be inadequate overall. Now OFSTED say senior leaders in the borough ‘have worked diligently’ to strengthen the quality of children’s services after seven monitoring visits were made.
There are no longer any individual areas of the service rated as inadequate though most continue to require improvement with only the progress of care leavers rated as good.
The inspection report states, “Children in need of help and protection are now identified quickly, and support for them is effective in reducing risks. Disabled children receive a good social work service, and services to care leavers have improved from inadequate to good.”
However the report raises concerns about the quality of practice and turnover of staff and says that the pace and impact of change has not been sufficient to achieve consistent improvements.
It states, “progress has been slow to identify and meet the initial health needs of children in care” and says “Private fostering practice is inconsistent for children and carers, and management oversight of these arrangements is ineffective.”
Councillor Sarah McDermott, the cabinet member for children’s services, said,“This report clearly shows that children’s services are moving in the right direction and I would like to thank staff for their dedication and hard work in helping improve the work of the department.
“The support and protection of our children and young people is vital to this borough and it is so important that we can now say with confidence that children in Wandsworth are safe, that the quality of help and support provided to children and families has improved and that the department no longer needs outside intervention.”
London Assembly Member, Leonie Cooper, said, “It is incredibly disappointing to read the results of the latest inspection of local children’s services, which reveals that improvement is needed in almost every area. It is outrageous to see the most at-risk children in our community continue to be let down in this way, and despite the many warnings flagged up in the previous report published over two years ago, we have seen very little change.
“The report reveals a number of major shortcomings, including failings in the Council’s ability to adequately identify and meet the initial health needs of children in care, a lack of co-ordination in producing risk strategies for vulnerable teenagers, and delays in placing children with adoptive and permanent carers.
“At a time when we are seeing increasing numbers of vulnerable children becoming caught up in serious and gang-related crime, we need the Council to urgently get a grip on this, otherwise the long-term ramifications for local young people will be severe”.
Councillor McDermott added, “There is still more to do in securing best practice, particularly in the areas of child exploitation, securing permanent family arrangements for children coming into care and taking more account of some children’s views when we are working with them.
“Our top priority is to recruit and retain the best staff and the authority continues to work to attract and employ the right people.
“We have over 140 social workers in Wandsworth, a number of whom are agency workers, and we are constantly striving to establish consistency in this area.”
The OFSTED report has listed a series of recommendations to help the council achieve a good rating for its next full inspection in three years’ time and the local authority say they will now be working to implement those recommendations.
July 24, 2018