Wandsworth Fostering Service
Contact Info For Wandsworth
Wandworth was recently inspected by Ofsted and rated Inadequate.
Education and Social Services
6th Floor, Town Hall Extension
Wandsworth High Street
London SW18 2PU :
"The standard of social work practice for children and young people and the quality of leadership, management and governance have declined since children’s services in Wandsworth were last inspected in June 2012. Services for children who need help and protection and for care leavers are inadequate. Leadership, management and governance in the borough have failed to prevent this serious decline. Lack of effective scrutiny by senior leaders, elected members and managers means that they were not aware of the serious deficits concerning unsafe practice for too many vulnerable children until this inspection. Managers at all levels of the organisation do not have sufficient oversight of front-line practice.
For children in need of help and protection, this has resulted in the inappropriate application of thresholds for intervention and service provision, delays in children and young people being seen by social workers and inadequate recognition and management of risk. This left some children at risk of harm. Strategy discussions take place solely with the police, which is not in line with statutory guidance and results in information not being shared appropriately. A number (10) of care leavers with high needs have spent unacceptably long periods in unsuitable accommodation without the necessary support being in place. This makes them more vulnerable. The quality and regularity of social work supervision is improving but it does not yet assure good and safe enough practice.
The implementation of the signs of safety and well-being framework is giving social workers a consistent model on which to base their practice, but this is not yet embedded well enough across all parts of children’s services. There is good organisational support in place for social workers, who have low caseloads. However, there is a lack of management oversight and a failure to sufficiently challenge poor practice. This has left some children at risk of harm or experiencing drift and delay. The local authority has a suite of widely distributed performance information, including data, that is used effectively in a variety of areas to improve practice. Nevertheless, inspectors found significant and fundamental gaps in the information reports. If available, this missing information would have alerted senior leaders and elected members to the fact that there were serious failings in the protection and support of children.
Although the local authority has made extensive use of externally commissioned and internal audits, these audits either failed to identify the deficits found by inspectors or, where they did identify them, this did not lead managers to develop and implement robust action plans to improve services. Where inspectors identified children at risk of significant harm, the local authority took decisive action to intervene and protect them. During the inspection, management oversight was strengthened in the referral and assessment service, including the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH). An audit was undertaken of recently closed cases. This led the local authority to review the closure decision in 3 15% of the cases audited and take further action to assess risk and need.
The quality of assessment and planning across all service areas is variable, ranging from inadequate to good. Poor-quality assessments are characterised by delays, insufficient account being taken of the child’s history, failure to identify and accurately assess risk factors in the child’s situation and insufficient engagement with the child and their family. Some children have been left for too long in situations where they are neglected. Plans are too vague, with a lack of specific and measurable outcomes by which to measure progress. Assessments and plans, including pathway plans, are not routinely updated to reflect changing needs or circumstances. Some children looked after are returned home from local authority care without a sufficient assessment or support plan in place. Partnership arrangements to protect children at risk of child sexual exploitation are well established strategically and operationally via the sexually exploited multiagency panels (SEMAP). These are not consistently underpinned by robust practice and more work is required to ensure that all sexually exploited children are effectively identified and protected. The number of return interviews completed after a missing young person is found is increasing. However, the risks of young people going missing are not managed consistently, nor are outcomes aggregated to inform wider intelligence about children and young people at risk of CSE or involved in risky behaviours such as substance misuse. Although the local authority has various strategic strengths, for example user participation and workforce planning, and has clear accountability structures in place, it has not yet set up a corporate parenting board dedicated to and accountable for improving outcomes for children looked after and care leavers.
This has left the inconsistency in the quality of service delivery unchallenged. Care leavers have insufficient accommodation and training and employment opportunities, and weak permanence planning has resulted in some children waiting too long for a permanent home. Senior managers do not track permanence plans involving long-term fostering or adoption to ensure progress in achieving timely placements. Family-finding starts too late. The local authority’s work to ensure sufficient good placements for looked after children and to commission these placements efficiently is underdeveloped.
The local authority’s sufficiency strategy recognises that there are insufficient fostering placements for children needing emergency placements, for adolescents and for brothers and sisters who need placements together. However, it does not address the need for suitable accommodation for care leavers with high support needs or the fact that none of the adopters currently approved are suitable matches for the children waiting. This results in insufficient placement choice, care leavers placed in unsuitable accommodation and in delays for children in need of adoptive homes. Good support is provided to children in need of a placement by the access to resources team. The placement support team offers a variety of interventions to help maximise the success of placements.
The virtual school monitors the education of 4 children looked after and has been effective in improving educational attainment and outcomes for children and young people with complex needs. The quality of postpermanence support is good. Social workers know their children well and some evidence of purposeful direct work was seen. Advocacy is provided through commissioned services. This is supporting young people to engage with the multi-agency meetings that concern them and helping to constructively resolve any complaints they may have. An early help hub and a family information service help practitioners and families to access information on the range of services that make up the local authority’s early help offer. This offer is benefiting an increasing number of children and families.
The quality of early help assessments varies. The impact of the services provided is difficult to measure through the team around the child meetings. Nevertheless, parents spoken to said they had benefited from a wide range of support and advice, programmes and group activities, which are enabling them to develop their parenting skills. The Family Recovery project is improving outcomes for the children who it supports. Participation is a strength in the local authority, and young people play a positive role in developing and improving services. Members of CLICK (the children in care council) and care leavers all spoke positively about their engagement with the local authority and the range of activities they are involved in that help to develop and improve services. "