Agenda item

Children's Improvement Plan Update

To receive an update on the Children’s Improvement Programme.


The Executive Director of Children, Families and Education introduced the report and the following was noted:

  • The department successfully negotiated a further monitoring visit for 16 October 2019 instead of the final inspection. This was agreed by Ofsted due to the changes made to the leadership of the department.
  • Substantive progress had been made since January 2019 and the last monitoring visit noted an improvement in overall quality of practice.
  • There were still some inconsistencies in practice in some areas of the service.
  • Private fostering arrangements practice was highlighted as poor by Ofsted. Resourcing and further work was being done to address the inconsistencies presented.
  • Child Protection cases had reduced from 600 a year ago to 100. This is a vast improvement.
  • The quality and regularity of supervision of staff had improved although it was recognised there was still a lot of progress to be made.
  • Caseloads in some services were still above target.
  • The strategic vision of the service is clear, the department was focused on being a solutions led and not reactionary service.
  • Increased investment was being made in Early Help to identify children and families that need help much earlier.


In response to a question for clarification on the assessment team vacancy rate of 80% and whether there were interim posts, officers responded that this was interim/agency rates. There had been some issues with senior management in the service which had been resolved. The team currently had excess number of staff which would be reduced gradually over the next few years.


It was questioned how confident the service was on the figures presented regarding the number of private fostering cases. Officers responded that whilst they were not confident that the figures were accurate, Croydon was doing well in trying to identify private fostering arrangements. In order to identify further cases, all partners needed to be vigilant and proactive in identification and reporting of concerns.


A Member commented that the report showed that 59% of children’s immunisations were not up to date and questioned how this would be addressed. Officers responded that this was an area of priority and work was being done by Early Help through a joint workshop to look at current processes. Additionally exploring alternative ways of working together more effectively to address the numbers of children not immunised.


A question was raised on what the sustainability of the service would involve and officers responded that the transformation and sustainability of the service would be based on early intervention. Currently, as a result of the Ofsted judgement, Croydon was conducting more assessment and S47 than any other borough and using up a lot of resources. This was attributed to social workers are being over cautious. It was envisaged that this would improve in time through social workers and senior managements increased confidence in their judgements.


It was commented that the reduction of child protection cases was evidence that the service was moving in the right direction with its preventative work.


The Sub-Committee came to the following Conclusions:

  • It was evident that improvements were being made and pace was improving
  • It was encouraging that Ofsted had agreed for another monitoring visit before the final visit as this allowed a further opportunity for the service to make necessary improvement in areas of inconsistent practice.
  • There was an improvement on the quality of information that was being presented to the sub-committee.
  • Going forward it was important that the sub-committee form an understanding of what a sustainable future for the service would look like in terms of how the service would function when the extra teams that were brought in to stabilise the service were no longer in place.
  • The sub-committee to start to think about their effectiveness in scrutinising the service in the years to come.


Supporting documents: