Foster children in Slough have not been protected from harm due to “serious failures” by a trust, a damning Ofsted report has found.

Inspectors found “serious and/or widespread failures” within the fostering agency run by the Slough Children’s Services Trust that mean children and young people are not protected and their care and experiences are poor.

They were also found not to be making progress as a result, while the agency was found to be “neither well-led nor managed” due to the lack of a registered manager.

The trust said the findings were "extremely disappointing", adding it had already started work on some of the issues highlighted and is addressing others immediately.

Ofsted’s latest report published yesterday (Tuesday), also blasted the trust’s leaders, managers and staff, who it says have “not acted swiftly enough” to address concerns raised about the care and welfare of children, and they do not routinely complete thorough matching and assessment processes before placing a child with a foster carer.

As a result, some children have been placed with carers outside the terms of their approval, while foster carers have not always been prepared for, or informed about, children’s needs and risks, inspectors said.

The report also found some children had not been protected from harm or the risk of harm, which has had a “significant detrimental impact on some children’s experiences, and for others, their ability to make progress”.

Foster carers were not found to have been provided with practical guidance to help them effectively care for children, with inspectors saying there are “missed opportunities” to provide children and foster carers with the support they may need in the next placement.

Inspectors also found relationships between the agency and some foster carers are poor, with some carers not feeling well-supported or listened to, and one saying they felt “under pressure” to accept referrals.

They said staff were not clear in their roles and responsibilities in respect of risk management, with a “lack of proactive early response and professional curiosity to emerging risks”.

One child’s behaviour demonstrated his “increasing exposure to the risk of criminal exploitation”, which was not picked up by his foster carers or supervising social worker, resulting in his involvement in criminal activity.

The report said: “Staff and foster carers do not act early enough to ensure that children are safe and being supported to learn how to manage risk themselves.”

Speaking about the findings, Lisa Humphreys, chief executive at Slough Children’s Services Trust, said: “This latest inspection focussed on our fostering service and implementing the report’s recommendations is now our absolute priority – we had already started work on some of the issues highlighted and are addressing others immediately.

“While these latest findings are extremely disappointing, we are seeing significant progress across the trust as a whole.

“This includes an improved rating following January’s trust-wide Ofsted inspection, which showed that all children we are engaged with were effectively safeguarded, and good adoption services.

“Our focus now is on delivering progress in fostering and to continue improving as an organisation, as we strive to make all our children safe, secure and successful.

“As well as fulfilling the recommendations of this latest report, we hope existing examples of good practice can be more fully evidenced during the next inspection.”