Bromley steps up progress in children’s social care

Published Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Ofsted’s latest monitoring letter to Bromley further vindicates the optimism felt by all children services’ management and staff after pulling out all the stops to make sweeping improvements.

Cllr Peter Fortune, Executive Member for Children and Families, said: “this latest positive letter comes hard on the heels of the decision from the Minister of State for Children and Families for Bromley to continue to run children’s services – unprecedented in these situations. We are delighted and extremely proud of what has been achieved so far in making improvements for the most vulnerable children in our society. Our new team which includes strengthened management and more permanent social workers have worked hard to deliver the council’s ‘roadmap to excellence’ and a lower caseload promise to allow time for quality social work to take place.”

This fifth inspection conducted in October focused on the way the council plans and achieves the best possible future for children and young people who are looked after. In their letter to Deputy Chief Executive, Ade Adetosoye OBE, Ofsted inspectors remarked:  “the local authority is making steady progress to ensure that it makes timely and appropriate decisions to achieve permanent placements for children who cannot live with birth families.”

In the cases reviewed, all practice was of the required standard with some aspects of good practice identified. Social workers know children well and there was evidence of some examples of imaginative and sensitive direct work. Ofsted also reported that caseloads are reducing in line with the council’s ambition.

Senior managers have a good grip of what is happening and as cases are audited, findings are specific and measurable with an increasing focus on positive outcomes for the children. The letter reflected that this all results in improving practice for the children of Bromley.

Ofsted reported significant improvement for children with a plan for adoption as they are placed quickly with adopters in most cases. The council makes more in-depth and increasingly timely assessments of family members as special guardians, which in turn supports more children to settle within their extended families. A newly established ‘connected person’ and guardianship team was recognised as providing support through drop in sessions, workshops and activity programmes: all well received by special guardians.

Foster carers reported they feel included and involved through renewed and improved relationships between them and the borough.  Adopters also spoke very positively about their experience with Bromley as an adoption agency.

Examples of plans for children moving to their permanent homes showed sensitive consideration of the child’s attachment to current carers with introduction meetings with new carers thoughtfully conducted in a way that suited the age and understanding of each child.

Cllr Fortune concluded: “These are great findings, but we are not complacent; we are mindful of the need to continue this important work. It will be well into next year before we have the opportunity for a full Ofsted inspection of children’s services to change our overall rating, but with the direction of travel, I believe we can allow ourselves to be cautiously optimistic about the future quality of children’s services in Bromley.”