Haringey’s children’s services department has been told it ‘requires improvement’ following an unannounced Ofsted inspection.
Ofsted gave the London authority the new rating – which is the second lowest out of four grades – on all three areas inspected.
Inspectors found services for children whose needs are below the statutory threshold are not well co-ordinated, while the number of families getting early help through the common assessment framework has been low for the last three years. Although the council has several pilots to address this, they do not yet include the full range of relevant agencies.
Adoption and child protection conference targets
The number of initial child protection conferences held within 15 days had improved significantly, to 68%, but some children did not get help through a child protection plan as quickly as they should. There were also delays providing services to some child victims of chronic neglect.
The time taken to match children to an adoptive family was found to have improved, to an average of 39 weeks, but this is still longer than the statutory 26-week timescale.
The proportion of care leavers in education, training and employment had fallen from 63% in March 2013 to 47% a year later.
Inspectors also found there was insufficient understanding of the susceptibility of older looked-after children to involvement in gangs, sexual exploitation and offending.
Haringey’s senior leaders were said to understand the service’s strengths and weaknesses, however, and inspectors did note improvements and highlight some good practice.
Rates of children entering care or being subject to child protection plans has steadily reduced from the very high levels in 2009-10.
The timeliness and quality of assessments was also improving and the voice of the child was evident in most assessments, inspectors found.
Meaningful relationships with social workers
Most children were also found to have sustained and meaningful relationships with social workers who knew them well, while swift action was taken when child protection concerns were identified and looked-after children did well in education at all stages.
Children in care were encouraged to go to college or university and supported while there, Ofsted found. Currently 65 care leavers are at university and 106 are in further education, the report revealed.
Ann Waters, Haringey council’s cabinet member for children, said she was pleased the report highlighted good practice and improvements.
“In particular, we welcome the inspectors’ findings that we are making progress in our delivery of children’s services and are clear about our priorities, that most of our casework is of good quality, and that the voice of the child clearly runs through most of our work.”
Waters also praised her hard working staff, adding: “We wholeheartedly take on board the recommendations made by the inspectors. Work is underway on many areas for development and a detailed action plan to address the inspectors’ recommendations is being produced.”