The joint area review of safeguarding in Haringey today delivered a damning indictment of the quality of and support for frontline child protection practice in the north London borough.
Ofsted, the Healthcare Commission and the police inspectorate found that while all children’s social care cases were allocated, social workers faced “heavy” workloads, with some unable to act on all cases effectively.
Inspectors uncovered a “heavy reliance on agency staff” who made up 51 of 121 social work posts in children’s services, resulting in a lack of continuity for children and their families, and in care planning.
Some cases were allocated electronically without discussion between managers and social workers over what actions to take, while inspectors found “limited evidence of thorough, analytical and reflective supervision” to ensure casework was carried out effectively.
Assessment and planning poor
Assessment and care planning was poor overall, inspectors found. The “repeated failure to take proper account of historical concerns” placed children and young people at risk”, while information from other agencies were not always used to inform assessments.
While managers across all agencies were aware of the poor quality of assessments, there was “no identifiable activity to address these serious deficiencies”.
Case file recording was inadequate, with police and health service files “often poorly organised” and social care files sometimes lacking a chronology.
While the electronic social care recording system lacked sufficient flexibility, impeding effective practice, there was “insufficient priority” given to resolving this issue by managers.
Inter-agency child protection work inadequate
Inter-agency child protection work was inadequate, with the majority of strategy discussions on files read during the inspection only involving staff from children’s social care and the police, rather than other relevant agencies such as health and schools.
The JAR found that the local safeguarding children board failed to sufficiently challenge its member agencies, an issue compounded by the fact that it was chaired by the director of children’s services, Sharon Shoesmith.