‘Serious failures’ at fostering agency

Ofsted

A fostering agency has been rated ‘inadequate’ following an inspection by Ofsted.

Asphaleia Ltd, of Liverpool Gardens, Worthing, covers seven fostering households and has five children in placements.

A report by social care inspectors Stephen Collett and James Harmon said there were “serious and/or widespread failures” at the agency, meaning children and young people were not protected, their welfare was not promoted or safeguarded and the youngsters were “not making progress”.

The inspectors noted Asphaleia had “struggled to recover” from the negative impact the loss of its chief executive officer had had on staff and foster carers.

The report added: “This has been compounded by competency issues leading to inconsistent management of the fostering service."

The inspectors recognised that, over the past year, a new registered person and manager had taken over and the development work they had initiated was beginning to have "positive results".

But the report added: "However, practice since the last inspection has often been poor and, as a result, the wellbeing of children and young people has not consistently been promoted, and they have not always been protected from harm."

Among the agency's strengths, the reported noted that Asphaleia worked "effectively" with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people, and had undertaken some positive work with children who had disclosed historic abuse.

A number of requirements were listed and recommendations made in the report, which leadership team development manager Hayley Roffey said had been acted on quickly.

Ms Roffey said Asphaleia was “disappointed” by the findings and added: "We are continuing to work very hard to ensure all children placed with us are safe and receiving good quality care.

“We are confident we will continue to offer good quality placements to children and believe the improvements that have been made will be demonstrated fully in our next Ofsted inspection.”

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “We are currently working with the organisation on its need to improve its provision, to ensure that all the children currently placed are safe and receiving good quality care.

“We are pleased to see that swift action has been taken by Asphaleia Ltd and we are confident the issues raised by Ofsted are being dealt with as a matter of urgency and that the steps being taken by Asphaleia will enable them to offer good quality placements to children in the future.”

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