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Children in care in Southwark receive effective support

Children in care in Southwark receive effective support that helps many of them to achieve good outcomes, Ofsted has said.

Since the last inspection in 2017, senior managers have made evident progress in addressing the areas for improvement identified at that time, underpinned by a culture of continuous learning, the focused visit to Southwark found.

"They have a good understanding of the areas where improvements are still required, and they continue to show drive and determination in sustaining and improving outcomes for children in care," said the report.

The quality of permanence planning, particularly for children in foster care, is improving, although the improvements are not yet sufficiently embedded in social work practice.

Inspectors highlighted:

- The access to resources team, which has been created since the last inspection, is having a positive impact on ensuring a more vigorous approach to identifying placements for children.

- Progress has been made since the last inspection in ensuring that permanence is routinely considered when planning for children, but there is still further work to do.

- Senior managers have been effective in increasing the numbers of children who are placed within Southwark or within 20 miles of their home.

- Social workers undertake purposeful work with children, and most children in foster care are benefiting from sensitive work to help them to understand their life histories.

- Children’s wishes and feelings are captured well in assessments, plans and meetings.

- The needs of disabled children are well considered in most cases.

- Senior managers have strengthened the response to children in care who have been missing.

- Staff have access to a wide range of induction and training courses and caseloads are manageable.

However, the recording of management oversight of casework is not sufficiently robust. Case audits seen by inspectors did not show sufficient consideration of the lived experience of children in care or of the impact of the work undertaken.

In order to improve practice, Southwark should improve the quality and timeliness of permanence planning, the quality and consistency of recording, including of visits to children, supervision, and activity by independent reviewing officers and the clarity of action planning in care plans.

Focused visit to Southwark local authority children’s services

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