Support for children in social care in Lewisham “requires improvement to be good” according to a report.

Lewisham Council has said “there is much more to do” after Ofsted findings noted a deterioration in children's social care services since a “good” rating four years ago.

An inspection in July 2019 noted the Council’s early help services were “underdeveloped” despite recommendations to improve in the 2015 report.

According to Ofsted, some families have had to wait two months for support from early help services, which are outsourced.

The report put these delays down to a “lack of capacity” adding assessments that do take place are “weak.”

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However, inspector Kate Malleson found “appropriate and timely action” is taken in the case of children at harm or at risk of harm.

Where domestic abuse has been identified, the report said: “Risks presented by male partners in relation to current and ongoing domestic abuse are not always fully assessed, analysed or addressed.”

In some cases, children have reported feeling scared the men will come back to their home due to “parental collusion” which is not “recognised or addressed.”

Despite concerns over record-taking, the report praises social workers in Lewisham who know their children “very well.”

It also noted the pace of improvement had accelerated since Lucie Heyes was appointed director of children’s social care in September 2018.

The Council has said it “fully” accepts the findings of the report.

A spokesman said: “We had already acknowledged that our children’s social care services required improvement and a new improvement programme was put in place in summer 2018,” which have resulted in “widespread and fundamental changes” recognised by Ofsted.

He added: “We are already supporting our staff through training and improved management to strengthen their social work practice so that it becomes consistently good.

“This is not a quick fix but we are using tried and trusted strategies which have been used by other local authorities who have succeeded in improving the quality of their children’s social care.”

The spokesman also said the Council’s “major priority” is ensuring children in care and care leavers receive “consistently good support to thrive.”

Lewisham mayor Damien Egan said: “While the report rightly recognises that the pace of improvement has increased substantially since last year, and is having a positive impact, the report also highlights a range of areas that must improve.

“I am under no illusion that this will be challenging, but I am confident that we can build on the work we are doing to make sure we continue to make progress and keep up the pace.”