Croydon children's services is making progress in improving services for its children and young people, Ofsted has stated.
However, in the fourth monitoring visit of the authority since it was rated as inadequate by the inspectorate in September 2017, inspectors warned that senior managers need to ensure that progress is consistent for all children and at a pace that meets each child’s needs.
"They are aware of the work that is still required and the need for continuing improvements to the quality of frontline practice," said the report.
Inspectors reviewed the progress made for children in care, including thresholds and permanence planning. The visit found most children are well placed and benefit from secure and stable placements.
However, some children in care are experiencing drift and delay in securing their permanence arrangements. In particular, this affects children who have been waiting to be formally matched with their current carer, although drift is also occurring for very young children with a plan for adoption.
The report stated:
- There is insufficient understanding of the emotional impact that such delay will have on children, and senior leaders need to tackle this legacy of drift for children with additional pace.
- In most cases, social workers know children well, and inspectors saw positive examples of work with children in care.
- Practice is generally better for children who have come into care more recently, although it is still not undertaken with sufficient urgency.
- Social workers in the corporate parenting service report an unsettled period. This is reflected in staff turnover and some staff report that they feel demoralised about working in the service.
- The service for care leavers is showing improvement and is benefiting from the importance that has been placed on it.
- Staff morale in the leaving care service is high.
- Progress can be seen in management oversight, with management involvement evident on virtually all case records seen by inspectors.
- IROs are beginning to provide more effective challenge, although this had not had sufficient impact on some of the plans for children seen during this visit.
The report says that improvements to the audit process are assisting senior managers in their oversight of the experiences of children in Croydon. However, senior managers are aware that the audit and quality assurance processes, including performance information, need to be strengthened further.
"In summary, progress has been made, but this is not yet having the required outcome and impact for all children in care," the report concluded.