The government has taken control of Croydon children’s services after Ofsted slammed the authority in a damning inspection report.
Ofsted inspectors highlighted the “widespread and serious failures in the services provided to children and their families in Croydon that leave some children at risk of significant harm”.
The inspection report cited weak managerial oversight and rated both child protection services and leadership as ‘inadequate’.
The workloads of social workers in some teams are high and this presents a serious barrier to providing effective services for children. The turnover of staff in many teams further inhibits the building of trusting relationships between social workers and children. The response to children who are at risk from sexual exploitation is underdeveloped.
Effectively supporting such a high number of unaccompanied asylum seekers is a “formidable challenge” that has been a priority. However, this prioritisation is not having the same impact on the rest of the frontline services.
There has been “significant deterioration” in the quality of service provision since the local authority was last inspected in 2012, Ofsted said.
The council has accepted the findings and is working with Ofsted to make the necessary changes needed to deliver better services for children and young people in the borough. The council is addressing all the issues raised as a priority. It has already invested further funding to help support and modernise working practices for all its children’s social workers and frontline staff.
A recruitment drive is launching to bring in more social workers, an extra social work team has been created to reduce workloads, and a new social care director appointed. An improvement board, with an independent chair, has been set up by the chief executive to oversee the delivery of the improvement programme and the council continues to work with Ofsted on an action plan.
Barbara Peacock, executive director of people, said: “We accept the findings of this report and are committed to making sure that we provide better support for our children and young people. I’m sorry that our services have not been good enough.
“We identified the need for improvements last year but despite working extremely hard to make these necessary changes, they have not delivered the impact we wanted.
“The report has shown the extent of work that is needed. Much of this work is already under way but we recognise there is a lot more to do and we are working with Ofsted to create an improvement plan to drive through those changes.
“So that we and residents can feel reassured about the safety of all the young people we are involved with we are reviewing cases and are taking immediate action where we do find issues to address,” she added.
Ofsted’s report of Croydon’s children’s services can be found here.