'Inadequate' foster agency put child 'at risk' three times, says Ofsted
Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
A private fostering agency in South Woodford has been labelled Inadequate by Ofsted after inspectors found it put a child “at risk of harm” on three separate occasions.
Shine Fostering in George Lane was rated Good at its last Ofsted inspection in 2017 but has now received Ofsted’s lowest possible rating after a fresh inspection in July this year.
Inspectors Seka Graovac and Tolulope Sawyerr said some of the placements made by the agency contravene “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.
The inspectors found one child 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”.
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The report said: “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.
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“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.
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 have been approached for comment by the Local Democracy Reporting Service but had not responded at the time of writing.