Croydon Council this morning claimed that it “has taken immediate action to improve its children’s services after an Ofsted inspection rated some areas of the service inadequate”.The council statement made no mention of the departure of two senior figures involved with children’s services in the borough, as reported by Inside Croydon earlier today.
In the council statement, it claimed, “Ofsted recognised that Croydon was improving standards but that it had not acted quickly enough for the changes made to have an impact.”
Within a couple of hours of the Croydon Council statement, the Department for Education announced that it was to impose a commissioner to oversee how care for some of the borough’s most vulnerable young people is provided. This does not appear to be the action of a government department with full confidence in the council’s “improving standards” and its ability to fulfill its responsibilities.
Croydon Council has already earmarked an additional £1million for recruitment of social workers and to improve its working practices.
The council also announced that an improvement board, with an as-yet-unnamed “independent” chair, has been set up to oversee the delivery of the improvement programme.
In its statement, Croydon Council claimed that its “improvements made since the inspection” include:
• Set up an immediate action plan and improvement team
• Set up an improvement board with and independent chair to oversee changes
• Commissioned Achieving for Children as an independent improvement partner to support our action plan
• Commissioned the LGA to provide improvement support
• Sharing learning and experience with other local authorities
• Appointed a new interim Director of Early Help and Children’s Social care
• Launched a recruitment drive, with three social workers and a unit manager already employed
• Roll out of improved IT and smartphones to all social workers
• Reviewed cases and taken action where needed
• Strengthened processes around missing children
• Reviewed case loads
• Established an extra interim social work team to help reduce workloads
The press statement was notable for the absence of any mention of or comment from the council chief executive, Jo Negrini, nor from Tony Newman, the leader of the council. It was almost as if neither the political leader of the borough nor the £185,000 per year senior public servant wanted to avoid any damaging association with the children’s services shambles.Bravely, Newman and Negrini ensured that it was not them, but their junior colleagues who were put up to provide some quoted reaction on the matter.
In the case of Newman, who is usually ever-ready for a self-promoting selfie or to turn out for a free concert ticket at Boxpark, today he was so low profile as to be subterranean. He got Alisa Flemming, the cabinet member for children and education, to do his dirty work for him.
She said: “The care and safety of vulnerable children and young people is an absolute priority for this council and I will do whatever it takes to make sure that we are providing them with the high-quality services that they deserve.
“I’m disappointed that changes made over the past year have not delivered the quality of service we want for our children. We are determined to put this right as soon as possible by increasing the pace of change.
“We have some excellent social workers who do an incredibly difficult job against a backdrop of challenging circumstances here in Croydon, as well as a national shortfall in funding. I want to make sure that they are supported to do the very best they can for the children that need our help and protection.
“We are committed to working with staff, partners and residents to deliver the very best services for children. I will do everything I can to ensure the right support is available to accelerate the pace of improvement and make sure that our children and young people are at the centre of everything we do.”
- Damning verdict on Croydon’s ‘inadequate’ children’s services
- Commissioner appointed to oversee children’s services
- Negrini tells staff: ‘There are some things that we don’t do well’
- Two key figures leave council over Ofsted inspectors’ report
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