Redbridge children’s services praised by inspectors

Inspectors have praised Redbridge Council’s children’s social care service for the “highly effective” way it deals with referrals.

Ofsted, who regulate children’s services, carried out a focused inspection of the council’s ‘front door’ service for children in April this year.

In a report published last week, the inspectors said Redbridge is making “fundamentally the right decisions” about the support children and families need.

Ofsted inspectors Neil Penswick and Nick Bennison added: “Only a small number of children and families referred to early intervention services later need children’s social care intervention, when there are changes in their home situation.”

They said the council’s response to referrals from agencies such as the police is “highly effective” and praised the speed that managers review cases and take action.

They also said the Families Together Hub “promptly” identifies children and families that need support, that the domestic abuse focused Reach Out service was “exceptional” and that the out-of-hours service, which is managed by Redbridge on behalf of three neighbouring boroughs, was “timely”.

However, the inspectors said agencies such as the Metropolitan Police have “limited” attendance at strategy meetings since the Covid-19 pandemic, sometimes forcing staff to carry out extra work to gather “vital” information.

Redbridge Council also told inspectors it has raised concerns about the Met failing “on some occasions” to notify the council and other agencies about incidents involving children.

When contacted for comment a Met spokesperson said: “We are working closely with senior leads in the local authority to seek to improve all aspects of our safeguarding partnership.”

Overall, staff at the council’s front door children’s service said their case loads are “at a manageable level,” spoke “positively” about their workplace and “high-quality support” from their managers.

Councillor Mark Santos, cabinet member for children and young people, said the report shows how the council has delivered on its pledge to “protect the most vulnerable” during the pandemic.

He added: “These recent findings from Ofsted show we did precisely that, despite the enormous pressures we faced during that period.

“That is a testament to the sheer hard work and professionalism of our staff, who have stopped at nothing to continue delivering an outstanding service. 

“Our staff should all be immensely proud of their achievement – I certainly am.” 

Redbridge was rated as “outstanding” in three out of four areas of its children’s social care service following the last full inspection in spring 2019.

The experience for children in care and care leavers was rated as “good,” due to a sometimes “variable” service.

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter