September 2 2014 Latest news:
by Flora Drury
Friday, July 18, 2014
Haringey’s children services “requires improvement” - but independent inspectors have said there are “no widespread or serious failures” which leave children “harmed or at serious risk of harm”.
Haringey was told it requires improvement across the board in an Ofsted report, published on Friday morning.
However, inspectors did find evidence of improvement within children’s services, and found nothing to raise any serious alarm bells.
Indeed, the report puts the borough in line with the three other London councils inspected under Ofsted’s new framework this year: Bexley, Barking and Dagenham and Hounslow were all told their services “required improvement”.
Ofsted spent 17 days in May and June thoroughly inspecting every aspect of the service, which deals with children in need of help and protection, “looked-after” children and care leavers.
It found Haringey was failing to reach the expected level in several areas - including noting that some children referred to the service for chronic neglect “may not always receive timely or thorough assessment” and that strategy discussions do not routinely invole agencies other than social services and the police.
Inspectors also consider the quality of the in-house fostering system is “under-developed”, as are the long-term plans for some looked-after children - which means, for example, they may “experience more placements, because opportunities are missed to place them early with the foster families that will go on to adopt them”.
For those leaving care, the report notes that, while there are differences in the quality of plans - for example, some not knowing what financial support they are entitled to - aspirations and support for them going into higher education are a “strong feature” of the service. There are 65 care leavers at university and 106 in further education.
Inspectors were also positive about the leadership, which it says has a strong understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of children’s services, and what needs to be done in future.
“Swift action” is taken when a child is thought to be at risk, it says, the majority of casework is good quality, and children have “sustained and meaningful relationships with their social workers”.
Inspectors noted 17 areas where they believe improvements could be made - which Cllr Ann Waters, cabinet member for children, says are being taken on “wholeheartedly”.
“We’re pleased that the inspectors highlighted a number of examples of good practice at Haringey, and that their report recognises many of the improvements already made in our children’s services,” she said.
“We wholeheartedly take on board the recommendations made by the inspectors. Work is already underway on many areas for development and a detailed action plan to address the inspectors’ recommendations is being produced.
“We are committed to delivering the further change that is needed to make Haringey’s children’s services amongst the best in the country.”