Lambeth council have been called on to account for “monumental failings of vulnerable children” after an Ofsted report branded Lambeth’s children’s services “inadequate”.
The news comes only three years after they were rated “outstanding”. Ofsted says that services in the borough that help vulnerable children and young people have “deteriorated” since they were inspected in 2012.
The report says: “weak management oversight has led to poor practice not being challenged and children’s needs being unmet. This is particularly the case for children who would benefit from being adopted.”
It also says there is “poor permanency planning, insufficiency of local placements, frequent changes of social workers and delays in initial health assessments”.
The council said it was “disappointed” by the findings and that it was already taking “urgent action to address the areas of concern.”
A team of Ofsted officials spent four weeks in February and March, visiting centres and spoke to staff, managers, carers, parents and young people.
Inspectors identified five areas for “priority and immediate action”, including ensuring improvements to the adoption service, reducing delays in moving children into permanent homes and collecting accurate data and performance management information.
The Green Party has now called on Councillor Imogen Walker as Deputy Leader for Policy (Children’s Services & Public Protection) and Jane Pickard, Cabinet Member for Children & Families, “to account for monumental failings of vulnerable children following a damning report from Ofsted”.
Green Party Councillor Scott Ainslie said: “Lambeth is one of the poorest boroughs in the country, with high numbers of young people needing support because they are unable to live with their family or are at risk of domestic violence and abuse.
“The Council said it would not tolerate ‘under-performance’ in children’s services, let alone failure on this scale. But it is not acceptable to blame front line staff or lower management for problems which are clearly the responsibility of those at Cabinet level.”
In response to the report the council says a new Children’s Improvement Board has been established, an action plan focussing on adoption put in place and the recruitment of a new Director of Children’s Social Care is now a top priority.
Lambeth’s new chief executive Sean Harriss, who is chairing the board, said: “We know there are big challenges ahead. But the confidence I have in our hard working social care staff, and our partner organisations, means I’m sure we can get this job done.
“The report has already galvanised us and helped set in motion wide-ranging improvements that will ensure all Lambeth’s children and young people are safe from harm and achieve their full potential.”
“Lambeth is determined to improve our children and young people’s services and, even before this inspection, we had set in train improvements to meet this challenge.”