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Government takes over Croydon children’s services after ‘serious failures’

The government has intervened and taken over Croydon’s children’s services after an Ofsted report revealed “widespread and serious failures” that have left some at risk of “significant harm”.

Following the publication of the damning report, the Department for Education (DfE) issued a direction to the local authority and has appointed a commissioner to oversee the service.

Ofsted stated that since the council’s last inspection in 2012 there has been “significant deterioration in the quality of service provision”, and “weak managerial oversight at all levels has not ensured that basic social work practice is of a good enough standard”.

The service was rated ‘inadequate’, prompting the DfE to appoint the commissioner, Eleanor Brazil, to improve the services. Previously, she worked with Haringey Council following the Baby P case.

The DfE added that Brazil will have to:

  • Issue any necessary instructions to the local authority for the purpose of securing immediate improvement in its delivery of children’s social care; to identify ongoing improvement requirements; and to recommend any additional support required to deliver those improvements
  • Bring together evidence to assess the council’s capacity and capability to improve itself, in a reasonable timeframe, and recommend whether or not this evidence is sufficiently strong to suggest that long-term sustainable improvement to children’s social care can be achieved should operational service control continue to remain with the council
  • Advise on relevant alternative delivery and governance arrangements for children’s social care, outside of the operational control of the local authority, taking account of local circumstances and the views of the council and key partners
  • To report to the of children and families minister by 4 December.

Responding to the report, Barbara Peacock, executive director of people at Croydon Council, said: “We accept the findings of this report and are committed to making sure that we provide better support for our children and young people. I’m sorry that our services have not been good enough.

“We identified the need for improvements last year but despite working extremely hard to make these necessary changes, they have not delivered the impact we wanted.”

The council added that it had made a number of improvements since the inspection, including hiring more staff. It has also invested further funding to help support and modernise working practices for all its children’s social workers and frontline staff.

Robert Goodwill, minister for children and families, said: “Keeping children safe is vital, and we take tough measures when councils are failing them.

“We have appointed a commissioner in Croydon to conduct a three-month review before we determine the best next steps to ensure improvements are made for vulnerable children and families.”

(Image: c. osde8info)

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