While children’s service’s in Croydon are finally improving a small number of children are still receiving a ‘very poor’ service.

In February, Ofsted made it’s fifth monitoring visit since the department was rated inadequate in September 2017.

Today (Thursday, March 14) a report from that visit was published.

This time inspectors were looking at children whose cases had been ‘stepped down’ including kids who had returned home after being in care and those who had gone from a child protection plan to a child in need plan.

And they found that the pace of improvement had sped up with staff morale improving.

In her report, inspector Louise Hocking said: “Many children now receive a service that meets their needs, but some variability remains.

“For a small number of children, the service continues to be very poor.

Some aspects of practice, such as the quality of plans for children, case recording, including written evidence of decision-making, and the frequency and quality of supervision and management oversight, remain stubbornly weak in many cases.”

But Ms Hocking highlights that the new senior leadership team in children’s social care is having a positive impact.

New executive director Robert Henderson started in December 2018 with new director for early help and children’s social care Nick Pendry joining in January.

“Social workers are generally positive about working in Croydon and morale is

improving,” the report says.

“They are encouraged by the increased visibility of and consultation

offered by senior managers, and staff have greater confidence in the local

authority’s plans and strategy.”

But the retention of and recruitment of staff has been an issue which the council says it is addressing by carrying out exit interviews and looking to reduce case loads further – Currently the average case load is at 15.

Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning, described it as an ‘encouraging report’ but acknowledged that more needs to be done.

She said: “Early help is so important – strengthening our children and families with the support they need, at the earliest stage, means we can often avoid statutory intervention later.

“It’s good that Ofsted have noted the positive changes we are making. I’m particularly pleased that they found that we are putting children and young people at the heart of all we do as, for me, it is this that will make the real difference to the way we support families long term.

“We do still need to do more, as I want every child and young person to experience the high-quality service they deserve. We have to keep on getting better, and keep up our investment and our pace.”

And Councillor Robert Ward, from the Conservative opposition and chair of the children and young people scrutiny committee also thought the service is going in the right direction.

He said: “It definitely seems more positive.

“I think we all agree that there is some improvement but it is a case of whether it is fast enough.”

He added that some councils have been able to get to a ‘good’ rating two years on from an ‘inadequate’ one.

There will be one more monitoring visit of the service, then six months after that Ofsted will carry out a full inspection. This is expected to take place in the autumn.