Shortfalls in recruitment, health and safety and training at a fostering agency risk undermining children’s safety, an education watchdog has said.

Ofsted rated Flowers Fostering Ltd in Waltham Abbey inadequate after an inspection in August this year, but a recent monitoring visit found it had not met most of the requirements set out in the summer.

The agency says it is working positively with Ofsted to resolve the issues raised in the inspection and monitoring visit.

The agency was found to be inadequate in August with regards to its overall experiences and progress of children and young people, how well children and young people are helped and protected, and the effectiveness of leaders and managers.

According to the inspection report, carers were not being provided with targeted training, meaning those who who looked after children with a history of self-harm, substance misuse or gang membership had not receive training in these areas.

Inspectors also found evidence of qualifications and written references for some panel members and agency staff were missing, and health and safety check records were not being completed for fostering households.

A monitoring visit of the agency took place on November 16 and a new report was published on December 11.

According to the monitoring visit report, suitable references and licences to practise are now held for social work staff and clear plans for training carers in first aid and preventing radicalisation had been drawn up.

But insufficient attempts were made to get written references or evidence of qualifications for agency panel members, and poor health and safety checks were not reviewed and updated.

A section reads: "The shortfalls in recruitment, health and safety checks, risk assessments and training have the potential to undermine the safety and well-being of children."

The report adds: "Since the last inspection, the manager has focused on rebuilding the staff team and ensuring that the staff and carers feel supported. 

"However, the manager has not maintained sufficient oversight and has been overly optimistic about the completion of some tasks. 

"As a result, most requirements have been restated as they are not yet fully met or because they were not reviewed as part of this inspection."

Flowers Fostering, which is privately owned and provides long-term, short-term, emergency and parent-and-child placements, said it is putting in place an action plan to address concerns in a timely manner as set out by Ofsted.

According to the report, the agency had four fostering households at the time of the visit and was providing foster placements for two children.

Additionally, the agency has been without a registered manager for over a year, although a new manager started on June 1 2021 and has applied to register.

The agency’s statement of purpose has been updated and is now available on its website.

The report set out six requirements, all of which were restated from the previous inspection.

These include ensuring the service is run consistently with its statement of purpose, preparing and implementing a safeguarding policy, providing foster parents with training and not employing a person to work unless that person is fit to do so.

The updated due date for the requirements is December 27.