05:20PM, Tuesday 07 July 2020
Ofsted inspectors have praised the impact of the new registered manager at an independent fostering agency run by Slough Children’s Services Trust.
The education watchdog carried out a monitoring visit of the trust’s fostering service on May 22.
The agency received an ‘inadequate’ rating in April last year with inspectors raising concerns over planning for child placements and a failure to appoint a manager to oversee the service.
But following the agency’s latest visit, carried out remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions, inspectors commended the leadership of the service’s new registered manager, Saima Arif.
The report, published on Friday, said: “Through her (Saima Arif) leadership, there has been a noticeable shift in the practice, culture and morale within the team.”
The report found that since joining the agency, Ms Arif has provided a clear vision for the service and worked hard to address previously identified shortfalls.
Saima Arif, registered manager of Slough Children's Services Trust's independent fostering agency.
Inspectors highlighted the new referrals and matching process at the agency, which has meant more thoughtful consideration is given to finding the right home for a child.
The agency’s training programme has also been reviewed with a clear programme now in place to give foster carers the skills and training they need.
The report said one foster carer had received 23 visits in a year from supervising social workers with the new approach making carers ‘feel part of the agency’.
Inspectors identified a high turnover of practice managers and staff sickness as a reason for foster carers ‘feeling frustrated’ due to continual changes in relationships.
The report found agency staff have been used to fill the gaps left by departing staff members with senior managers ‘actively recruiting’ to create a more stable workforce.
The fostering service has been told to ensure it has enough suitably qualified and experienced people to safeguard the health and welfare of children placed with foster parents.
Saima said: “We were disappointed not to have a full inspection due to COVID-19.
“However, we welcomed the opportunity during the visit to show Ofsted how far the IFA has progressed since its full inspection in April 2019 and the monitoring visit in August 2019.
“We are now looking to extend our service as there is a still an urgent need for foster carers in Slough.
“Our foster carers play a vital role in supporting vulnerable children and in return they receive generous payments, excellent training and 24/7 support.”
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