A lack of capacity in a council’s children’s social work service means managers “struggle to ensure that children receive a satisfactory service” when staff are sick or on leave, an Ofsted inspection has found.
The monitoring inspection of Croydon’s children’s services, judged ‘inadequate’ in an Ofsted inspection last year, said progress had been “too slow” in improving progressing child in need plans to child protection and how the council progresses into the public law outline.
Inspectors said “urgent” workforce issues were being addressed by senior leaders, and that some agency social workers and team managers had become permanent.
However, the report noted: “Performance data on social worker caseload volume is inaccurate, as it fails to take into account the cases that are currently allocated to team managers. This reporting error is being amended.”
“At the time of the monitoring visit, there were 23 cases allocated to a manager, with no named social worker. There is no clear process to manage these cases, which are temporarily allocated either when a social worker leaves or at the point of transfer from assessment teams to care planning teams,” the report said.
Management oversight of practice was too variable, inspectors said, and while there was more supervision, the quality was “inconsistent”.
There were some examples of timely escalation and implementation of action plans, the monitoring inspection found, but there were too many children experiencing delays, and a “lack of recognition of the lived experience of children in neglectful circumstances or where risks are increasing”.
This meant decisions to escalate pre-proceedings did not happen “soon enough”, inspectors said.
Inspectors did find progress, and said the application of a practice model was becoming more evidence, and practitioners were positive about the training they received.
“The introduction of group supervision within teams is also valued by social workers, and inspectors saw good examples of the impact of this,” the report said.