Education

28.03.19

Care leaders ‘neglected their duties’ to children as Ofsted finds serious social care failures at Newham Council

Vulnerable children in Newham are being put at risk by “serious failures” in social services and care leaders who have “neglected their duties” to children, a damning Ofsted report has found.

Inspectors reported a “significant deterioration” at Newham Council’s children’s services since 2014 and  noted “leaders are failing in their duties to children in care and care leavers.”

The children’s social care services were given an overall ‘inadequate’ rating.

Newham Council’s mayor Rokhsana Fiaz “apologised unreservedly” for the “unacceptable failings” and said that a raft of measures had already been introduced to improve the services.

The Ofsted report, led by inspector Dawn Godfrey, said: “Inspectors found little evidence senior managers and leaders actively listen to children and families and use feedback to improve services.”

Young people at risk of exploitation were “not always effectively identified, and protective action is not consistently instigated.” Inspectors also reported that case loads were too high to enable good social work.

The report stated: “The needs of too many young people are not met, or even known, because there is a lack of contact from the care leavers service.”

“Leaders have neglected their duties as corporate parents, and services for children in care and care leavers have been overlooked and disregarded.”

Ofsted said that senior leadership’s urgency in progressing its improvement plan needs to improve, as does their interaction with social workers to enable their staff to feel listened to.

Other areas which inspectors said needed urgent improvement included the quality and effectiveness of safety planning, staff supervision and oversight, and providing opportunities for children to participate in their own planning.

Mayor Fiaz said that “it’s clear that services for children and young people in Newham have not been good enough” and revealed that £10.6m has been added to the children’s services budget with an improvement plan in place.

The robust improvement plan to target the failings highlighted in the report will be monitored by a Safeguarding Improvement Board, extra training for social workers and managers will be given, and greater oversight of improvement will also be provided.

Fran Pearson, chair of the Newham Safeguarding Children Board, said the board had taken some comfort in that inspectors had identified no systematic failures in children protection and safeguarding, which is “our main priority.”

Pearson stated that they recognised that children have been let down in other parts of their journey through the system, and that Fiaz and her administration had “grasped the scale of the improvements that need to be made.”

Image credit - AmandaLewis

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