Services for children and families in Croydon have been rated ‘good’ by Ofsted, two and a half years after the borough launched a major improvement drive.
Ofsted has today (16 March) published Croydon’s new rating, following a full inspection in February this year.
Inspectors found the service ‘dramatically improved’ and ‘transformed’ since its ‘inadequate’ judgement in September 2017. They report that ‘services for children in need of help and protection are now good, and services for children in care and care leavers are improving well.’
Children and families who need help receive it at an early stage, ‘from a range of good-quality universal and targeted services’, and social workers work hard to keep them together. And the ‘vast majority’ of children and young people who are at risk of harm are swiftly identified and given the right support by the council and all its partners.
Morale among Croydon’s social workers was noted to be high, as staff show a strong understanding of the children they work with, ‘feel valued’ and ‘enjoy working in the borough’.
Ofsted attributed the borough’s success to ‘strong corporate and political support, substantial investment, and the appointment of highly-experienced senior managers.’ Since 2017, Croydon has taken a whole-council approach to improving children’s services and made it a priority right across the organisation.
Their report highlighted the positive impact of Croydon’s executive director for children, families and education and director of early help and children’s social care, who have quickly “systematically and effectively tackled the weaknesses”, while creating a positive environment for social work.
Together with its partners in social care, Croydon Council will continue its improvement drive, focusing on areas including services for children in care and care-leavers. Inspectors noted that Croydon is ‘fully aware’ of these and ‘demonstrates a relentless determination to deliver high-quality services to all children in Croydon.’
Croydon is home to 94,000 children under-18 and the council looks after around 800 children in care – more than anywhere else in London – including around 300 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC). As a gateway authority, Croydon looks 10% of the total number of UASC in the country. During monitoring visits, Ofsted noted the scale of the challenge facing Croydon due to the size and complexity of its service.
Since 2017, the council has invested an additional £10million in improving children’s services each year and increased the number of social care staff by around 40 per cent, to ensure they are spending more time helping children and families.
“With 94,000 under-18s in our borough, children and young people are our absolute priority and we have put them at the heart of everything we do. Getting to ‘good’ is a real achievement but our journey does not end here – there is much more to be done, and we are determined to keep getting better, until all our children and families are getting the best.”
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council
“Through our preventative approach we are helping more children and families earlier, when it really makes a difference. We must build on this, until all our children and not just the vast majority, are getting the right support, when they need it.
“I want to thank all the children and young people whose voices are shaping the future of our service – we will keep working with you and listening to your voices. Thanks also to all our staff and partners for their hard work and dedication, I know that your commitment to improving experiences for children remains at the top of the agenda. Our journey to outstanding continues and we will continue to strive for excellence.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning
Jo Negrini, chief executive, Croydon Council, said: “We have taken a truly whole-council approach to improving children’s services and this energy, focus and collaboration at all levels, has been absolutely key to our rapid transformation. We are very aware that there is more to be done to ensure all children and families are getting the right support at the right time, and this will be a priority as we move to our new localities-based approach, delivering targeted services to residents in their neighbourhoods.”
Rob Henderson, executive director for children, families and learning, Croydon Council, said: “Ofsted recognised our staff’s passion and commitment to helping children and families – they are our greatest asset. There are areas where we still need sustained improvement and we will have a strong focus on these in the coming months. Croydon’s strength is its shared vision and high aspirations for all its children – it’s a special place to work.”
Read the report in full here.