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Ofsted: Improvements to Croydon's children's services 'too slow'

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Croydon LBC’s children’s services have been criticised by Ofsted for failing to implement changes quickly enough.

The authority’s response to recommendations has been “too slow”, according to the the inspection agency’s third letter to the authority since it was rated inadequate in September 2017.

Inspector Anne Waterman said in her letter that the quality of services and management oversight at the authority remained “variable”, while also recognising that improvements had been made in training and engagement.

“Senior managers have correctly identified the priority actions that are necessary, but implementation has not been at the pace required to ensure that children’s circumstances improve in a timely way,” Ms Waterman said.

The council appointed three new senior managers to its children’s services department after Ofsted’s inspection, which had identified serious and widespread failures exposing children to a risk of significant harm.

Managers were criticised in Ms Waterman’s latest letter, dated 2 August, for their oversight of individual cases, especially with regards updates and progressions on individual children’s plans.

This lack of oversight was also found to be affecting frontline caseworkers. In noting an “increase in demand” and a “high vacancy rate”, Ms Waterman reported that staff had spoken of their concerns over increasing workloads.

“Children are not always seen frequently enough, because visits are undertaken late or are missed. This was particularly evident when cases transferred from the assessment teams to the care planning teams, and impacted on the ability of children to develop relationships with their social workers,” Ms Waterman said in her report.

In May, the Department for Education approved a proposal for Croydon to receive “intensive peer support” from Camden LBC in a bid to improve its children’s social care services, following a government order to consult with the borough on improvement strategies.

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