Berkshire

Slough Children's Services Trust: Foster children 'not protected'

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Image caption Ofsted said the lack of a registered manager had contributed to the service's "instability, inconsistency and ineffective management"

A trust put foster children in harm's way due to a string of "serious failures", a report by Ofsted said.

The watchdog said Slough Children's Services Trust's shortfalls meant some children were put in households with "inadequate" sleeping arrangements.

Ofsted said this showed the trust had failed to prove "sufficient care" was taken to assess carers' suitability.

The trust said it was "extremely disappointed" in the findings and progress was being made.

Despite a series of recommendations from a previous inspection in January, Ofsted found planning arrangements at Slough Children's Services Trust's (SCST) were "insufficient and inconsistent".

It said this resulted in children having "poor experiences" of care, with one reportedly becoming involved in crime despite previously displaying behaviour suggesting he was at risk of child exploitation.

In another case, a child "experienced disruption" after being placed with foster carers without the correct approval and having to be rapidly transferred.

'Instability and inconsistency'

The report said: "There are serious and/or widespread failures that mean children and young people are not protected or their welfare is not promoted or safeguarded and/or the care and experiences of children and young people are poor and they are not making progress."

The watchdog said the lack of a registered manager for the past 18 months had contributed to the service's "instability, inconsistency and ineffective management".

Staff were also found to have failed to act "swiftly enough" to address concerns and challenge foster carers to ensure children were safe.

SCST said it "strives to make all our children safe" and was addressing the issues "immediately".

It said while the findings were "extremely disappointing [...] we are seeing significant progress across the trust as a whole".

It pointed to an "improved rating" by Ofsted following the January inspection, which showed "all" children were "effectively safeguarded".

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