Centre supporting vulnerable families in need of help is rated ‘outstanding’

Published: 12 October 2015

A council-run service in Battersea that offers tailored support to vulnerable families has been given a glowing assessment by Government inspectors.

Falcon Grove family centre helps families facing significant challenges and whose children could be at risk of neglect or harm. Parenting skills are often poor because of learning difficulties, alcoholism, substance misuse, anger management issues or some degree of mental illness.

The specialist services offered to these families have now been assessed as “outstanding” by Ofsted inspectors who conducted a detailed review of every aspect of its work. In their view children supported at the centre are “extremely well protected from harm, abuse, neglect”. 

The inspectors’ report said: “The support and safeguarding of children and parents is exceptional. Children’s welfare and protection is central to the centre’s focus of work.”

The service, which is staffed 24 hours a day by specialist care workers, supports families with children usually aged five or younger. It provides accommodation for up to five families at a time so they can be carefully assessed and then helped to develop better parenting skills. Some families live there for up to three months so these problems can be properly identified and comprehensive action plans devised.

The inspectors concluded: “The quality of care provided by the staff team is excellent. Support and guidance is expertly tailored to meet families’ individual assessment needs and work with families incorporates a range of assessment tools and techniques that promote highly positive experiences and improved outcomes for children.

“Staff are especially skilled in effectively, yet sensitively supporting parents to understand their own capacity to change and the impact of their behaviour on children. This is one of the many clear strengths of this service. Managers have excellent insight into the centre’s strengths and identified areas for improvement. They continually strive to improve the quality of the service.

“Children benefit from assessments that are of exceptionally high quality. These carefully examine parenting capacity, family dynamics and the individualistic needs of children and their parents. This is to determine whether or not parents are able to care for their children safely. Assessments are expertly child-focused, analytical and very clearly based on triangulated evidence. They provide excellent insight and understanding of families’ histories, identified difficulties and risks.

“Staff are extremely effective in working successfully with other professionals. This results in high quality support, care and protection of children and parents.

“Children’s learning and health needs are highly promoted by the service. Parents receive consistent support and advice to help them recognise the importance of healthy child development.

“The centre is well staffed and resourced to achieve its objectives. The staff team is comprised of skilled permanent staff who benefit from excellent support and supervision. The centre’s principal social workers have strong, relevant work histories and qualifications appropriate to the roles they fulfil.

“The work of senior staff is child-focused with a very strong emphasis on safeguarding. They have extensive experience of co-ordinating, managing and conducting assessments that are of an exceedingly high standard.”

The inspectors quoted another social worker who’d referred a family to the centre who said: “Since the placement, (staff) have gone out of their way to communicate with me – ensuring that I am given all relevant information, helping me pass on information and holding planning meetings which include me appropriately. Their level of communication in my view is outstanding’.

Another said: ‘The professionalism to safeguarding in such a nurturing environment was something that astounded me.’

The council’s cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Kathy Tracey said: “We warmly welcome this outstanding rating from Ofsted for this key child protection service.

“The work that the centre’s highly trained and dedicated staff carry out in support of very vulnerable families is absolutely vital in keeping children and young people in Wandsworth safe.

“It is a key frontline service and we have made sure it has the resources it needs to do this hugely important role. I would like to pay tribute to all the staff who work there for all their hard work and professionalism.”

The full report can be viewed on the Ofsted website.