A private fostering agency in Redbridge put a child “at risk of harm” three separate times, an Ofsted inspection has revealed.
Shine Fostering in George Lane, South Woodford, was rated ‘good’ at its last inspection in 2017, but has now received Ofsted’s lowest possible rating of ‘indequate’ after an inspection in July.
Inspectors said some of the placements made by the agency contravened “fostering regulations” and “good fostering practices”, as well as the agency’s “own statement of purpose”.
They highlighted the example of a pregnant mother and baby placed in a household with smokers and a child moved eight times in less than 17 months, who stayed in two of their placements for just two days.
Most worrying, however, was the child who was placed three times with a carer who had not yet completed the assessment process to become a foster parent including, on one instance, with “a staff member who occasionally works for the agency”.
The report reads: “This demonstrates that the agency failed to meet regulatory requirements and placed the child at risk of harm.
“They circumvented all their usual procedures and good fostering practices to provide [these] unlawful placements.
“The leaders and managers did not recognise that these placements were unlawful until the inspector highlighted the fact at this inspection.”
Overall, the report found “serious and widespread failures” at the agency and criticised it for “reactive” rather than preventative responses to risk.
The inspectors noted that a risk management plan for a suicidal child was only completed after he had already attempted suicide.
Despite this, the report said foster carers, social workers and children “talk highly” of the agency and its efforts to help its charges progress in life.
At the time of the inspection, the agency had nine fostering households, looking after ten children.
The agency is now required to make a number of improvements to its service ahead of a further inspection in November.
Shine Fostering has been approached for comment but had not responded at the time of writing.