Nearly two years on from being rated inadequate, children’s services in Croydon are improving and children are now receiving a better service.

In September 2017 the service was rated ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted and has since been subject to a series of monitoring visits.

The sixth and final visit took place on July 10-11 and a report was released today (Friday, August 2).

In the report inspector Lousie Hocking said: “The local authority is now making sustained progress under the rigorous drive and direction of the current senior leaders, with some clear indicators of improvement.

“Pace has accelerated, practice for children is becoming consistently better

and staff feel appreciated and supported.”

The latest visit focused on services for children at the ‘front door’ – how the team responds to referrals and assesses risk – as well as services offered to children with disabilities and children who are privately fostered.

Private fostering is when a parent or carer arranges for another adult, who is not a close relative, to foster their child, without the involvement of the council. This means they are not in the care of the local authority.

The inspection found that these children are receiving a poor service.

The report said: “The view of inspectors matches that of a recent local authority review of the service, and a dedicated improvement plan, which includes restructure of the private fostering service, is underway.”

But the report was positive about the other two aspects of the inspection.

It noted “significant improvements” in front door services with children receiving timely and appropriate responses.

It also said the majority of disabled children receive an appropriate social work service.

But there more development is needed to provide a “consistently strong service to all children”.

And staff case-loads have now reduced to a manageable level and staff report feeling valued and supported.

The inspection found that while staff retention has improved there are still issues.

It added: “Senior leaders continue to give very high priority to the recruitment and retention of staff.

“This is reaping some rewards, but remains a challenge. Overall, the vacancy rate is 40%, but this reaches 80% in the assessment teams.”

This was the final monitoring visit of the service and in six months Ofsted is expected to carry out a full inspection.