Ofsted has praised children’s services in Camden, rating them overall as good.
An inspection of the London Borough rated leadership, management and governance and adoption services as outstanding while child protection, children requiring permanence and care leavers services were rated as good.
“Leaders and managers in Camden think deeply and creatively about how to continually improve the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable children and families while ensuring effectively that children at risk are safeguarded,” said the report. “They do this through thoughtful, highly evolved strategic partnerships that lead to effective and innovative integrated services.”
The leadership team had created a “professionally fertile environment for social workers at all levels,” while the learning culture is well supported by the use of a systemic model of practice. As a result, social workers can gradually increase their skills and knowledge through continuous professional development.
Social workers at Camden benefit from manageable caseloads and analytical and reflective supervision.
Comprehensive, integrated early help and family support services provide families with an accessible range of universal, targeted and specialist services, the report found. Thresholds for services are understood and supported by consistent decision-making in an effective multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH), which enables swift access to early help services and prompt responses to safeguarding concerns.
Inspectors praised Camden’s response to children at risk of child sexual exploitation who are protected through highly effective multi-agency strategic arrangements. Intelligence is quickly gathered and analysed, and the information is shared across a broad spectrum of services.
Adoption performance is outstanding, although further work is required to establish ‘foster to adopt’ placements in planning and practice, inspectors said. Services to care leavers are good and they live in safe, good-quality accommodation and value the support from their social workers and personal advisers. They are well supported towards independent living and to engage in education, employment and training. A significant percentage of care leavers attend university.
The quality of frontline practice is regularly assured by established auditing work, leading to targeted learning and improvement.
The report recommends that Camden ensures that records of frontline management oversight and case directions are timely and of a consistently high quality. Performance information should include regular monitoring of the timeliness of visits to children who are the subject of early help referrals and child in need plans.
Communication between the multi-agency public protection panel (MAPPA) and the multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) and social work teams should be strengthened, to ensure that relevant recommendations and actions from the panels are recorded and pursued.