A government watchdog has awarded the top grade of ‘Outstanding’ to Lambeth Council for the way children and young people are looked after by its fostering service.
The report on fostering in Lambeth is studded with “good” and “outstanding” verdicts on various aspects of the service. It says children are kept safe, have good relationships with their carers, do well in school and make a good transition to adulthood.
The Lambeth Fostering report follows an inspection by Ofsted, which monitors children and young people’s service across the country as well as schools and colleges.
Cllr Rachel Heywood Lambeth Council Cabinet member for Children and Families said:
“The positive comments from the Ofsted inspectors are testimony to all the hard work our fostering service puts in to ensure that children are looked after in families that can offer them the best possible care. The key focus of our service is the drive to find the most appropriate placement for every individual child.
“We have several hundred children in our care at Lambeth. They all deserve the chance to grow up in a loving and secure home and this government report confirms that this is what we are giving them.”
Lambeth Council’s Executive Director for Children and Young People’s Service, Debbie Jones, said: “Choosing to become a foster carer is not a decision to be taken lightly and it’s vital that we ensure that we recruit the best possible people within our communities. We then need to make sure that we can give them excellent support to care for our children, many of whom will have had very difficult early experiences. This Report shows that this is what you can expect from Lambeth’
“Families deserve the best in Lambeth and it’s the fostering service’s ambition to deliver the best. Lambeth still needs to recruit more foster carers from all backgrounds for children to keep them within the local area, where they can stay at their school and keep in touch with their family and local community. “
People who are interested in fostering and believe they could offer a child from Lambeth a loving home are invited to visit the website
The Ofsted inspection report says outcomes for children and young people are “outstanding” which means the service is of “exceptional quality that significantly exceeds minimum requirements”
Key findings of the report are;
• Children and young people are kept safe.
• Placements are stable with very few unplanned endings and those being fostered are “healthy and enjoy taking part in a wide range of activities” that promote their social and emotional development.
• Children and young people have very good relationships with their carers.
• Children and young people make very good progress in education from their starting point on coming into care. Attendance levels are extremely high, which maximises their opportunity to achieve.
• Young people are very well supported in transition to adulthood
• The leadership and management team is a key strength of the service with a positive and proactive approach towards consultation with young people.
• Safeguarding procedures and service development plans are in place and are regularly updated.
On the education front the report says “attendance is high and there are almost no exclusions, which means that young people are able to maximise their opportunity to achieve. Children and young people generally make excellent progress in education from their individual starting points. “
The report notes that “The participation of children and young people in the decisions that are made about their own care and in the development of the service is exceptional. The authority has a Children in Care Council group for young people and is looking to develop a similar group for children.
Ofsted say says Lambeth children and young people benefit from valuable relationships with birth families and friends. There is a continuity of care which “supports young people’s emotional development and in turn helps them to a positive self image and strong sense of identity.”
Ofsted say that “children and young people report that they feel very safe in their foster homes. There is little evidence that children and young people who are fostered engage in risk-taking behaviours.
The Ofsted report says the Lambeth Fostering service has developed a ‘staying put’ policy. “This has meant that several young people over 18 remain with their foster carers and benefit from emotional stability, together with opportunities to acquire independent living skills. This helps them move to independence at their own pace, whilst they are supported to make the transition to adulthood in a more gradual way.”