Children’s Services praised

HAVERING’S management of children’s services cases has been praised by Ofsted following an unannounced inspection last month.

It assessed the quality of the contact, referral and assessment arrangements when trying to resolve issues of child abuse and neglect.

The report from inspector Derek Churchman to director of Havering’s Children’s Services, Andrew Ireland, gave a mostly glowing reference highlighting only “some areas for development”.

Mr Churchman said “staff morale is high” and there was a “strong commitment at all levels” from the workforce.

He said the thresholds for referral were “effectively monitored” and the systems were processed with “good managerial oversight”.

He said assessments were consistent, families were appropriately involved and child protection cases “promptly identified”.

He said there was a “smooth transition of cases between teams” and joint working arrangements with outside agencies were satisfactory.

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But highlighting areas for improvement, Mr Churchman said some cases were “not appropriately allocated to social workers in a timely manner following referral”.

Mr Churchman said: “The quality of referrals from other agencies is inconsistent. Some insufficiently define need or risk for the child and place further demands on the duty and assessment service.”

He said social workers’ capacity to take on new cases was limited because cases were not always closed in a timely way, and said though there was regular supervision of social workers, evaluation of their performance following training was not always sufficient.

He also said managers needed a better audit system for case files to avoid variation in the quality of practice by social workers.

Cllr Paul Rochford, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: “We take the protection and safeguarding of children in Havering very seriously and we welcome this recognition.

“However, we are not complacent and recognise that further improvements can be made, especially in working with other agencies.”