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Regional Update – December 2022

Our Regional Chair’s end of year message:


Dear Colleagues,


It hardly seems a year since I last wrote to you, but once again I wanted to take the opportunity to reach out in my role as Regional Chair for the Directors of Children’s Services Network. Whilst there have continued to be some challenges for us as a region and in particular for a couple of our individual local authority areas, we have also seen great positive activity and outcomes throughout 2022.


Of course, we still live to some degree, in the shadow of Covid-19, but it does seem that we are better equipped to live with this, with much of our day-to-day activity returning to roughly normal. However, we continue to face challenges in society and with a cost-of-living crisis being experienced across the country we are seeing a deep impact upon all of our communities. We are also dealing with a global human displacement, the likes of which has not been seen since the Second World War. I am not sure that a year ago, many of us might have predicted these events, nor have considered the effect they would have on our day-to-day work, but as ever I am truly humbled and honoured to work in a region where we have collectively risen to the challenges.


There are many reasons why we know that we are following a positive trajectory in the region, but for me one stands out from the crowd. In October we held our first Team Excellence Awards, with each DCS and Trust CEO presenting their Team of Excellence 2022. I think I can speak for the whole of DCS Network, when I say that we were truly blown away by the quality of innovation and sheer determination to achieve positive outcomes for children and young people. This event absolutely reinforced our belief that regardless of Ofsted judgements, every local authority area has its own “Outstanding” to shout about. Team Excellence 2023 will take place in September 2023 and regardless of your team being nominated, or not, we hold the event in full respect of every member of our workforce, knowing that each of you also has your own “Outstanding” to shout about.


Finally, and whilst we know that our work has far more value than just an Ofsted judgement, the regulator is clearly recognising our improvement across the region. We now have seven local authority areas judged to be Good or better overall and four of these are at least Good across all domains of the inspection framework. Meaning we are well on our way to achieving our ambition to see at least 11 of our group achieving Good judgements.


That just leaves me to wish you a great festive break and once again thank you, on behalf of the communities you serve, for your hard work this year.


Kind regards

Emma Bennett




The Regional Team would like to wish you all Seasons Greetings and we look forward to supporting you all again in 2023.


Just as a reminder:

The Regional Team Office will be closed from 5pm on 23rd December and will reopen at 9am on 4th January.


Leadership Programmes:

We are currently taking interest for another round of the Aspirant Leaders Programme, should we proceed to commission a further round in the coming year.


We are also looking to commence an additional leadership course for Women of Colour. This would be aimed at those in middle management up to HOS level.


Please contact info@wmchildrensservices.org.uk to register your interest in either of these programmes.


BlueSky Thinking Festival:

Once again, The Staff College will be running their Blue Sky Thinking Festival in 2023.


Blue Sky Thinking Festival welcomes a host of speakers, on varying topics which are designed to improve and benefit you as individuals, the workplace and enable change in the wider community.


Sessions online and for FREE. Simply reserve your spot on the call!


For more information and to register please click here.




Key Events:


Mentor-Mentee requests to social work staff:

The West Midlands Social Work Teaching Partnership Mentoring Scheme has just been launched as part of their Continuous Improvement Funding from the Department for Education. The scheme is available to any qualified social workers or managers. The content of mentee applications will be kept confidential, though line managers must indicate separately that they support the application, and the mentee will be facilitated to attend mentoring sessions.


View the full information and step by step guidance on their website: Apply to become a mentee


Regional Care Leaver Offer- Update (RCLO):

As the work progresses towards a core regional offer, our current focus is to create a Care Leaver Board by close of summer 2023. Jo Britton (DCS Telford and Wrekin) has offered to sponsor this work and lead on the board. We would also like to welcome our new Project Manager Chris Yates to the RCLO Team. Chris will be working closely with colleagues including Jo and wider partners.

We recognise the need to have the right people in the room to make decisions and drive progress forward. A request has been sent to Care Leaver managers across the region to identify colleagues to form part of the RCLO Team. Should you have any queries, or need to clarify RCLO leads for your Council or Trust, you can contact The Regional Team – info@wmchildrensservices.org.uk


What’s in a Workstream?

We are asking colleagues to consider the importance of attendance at workstreams but also ‘who’ or what role and authority is required to influence and take action in meetings. We will soon be sharing the engagement trackers with individual councils and trusts and this could be a great opportunity to consider – ‘Is the right person in the room?’ and ‘if they are not there, how are we influencing regional work?’. We are always looking to hear your thoughts on what makes a workstream work, so welcome your feedback.


Equality, Diversity and Inclusion:

Everyone knows what that is? or do they? As a region, we are striving to ensure we have a diverse workforce and leadership that enables an inclusive culture with equality of opportunity. What we recognise is that this is easier said than done and no single solution in a complex system. What we do know is that this requires conversations of courage and also the willingness to try even if the result is not what we were hoping for. What we do know for certain, is we continue to learn.


WM ADCS network are supporting the meeting of the Anti-racist community of practice (all who attended the programme this year) on a regular basis to consider some of the challenges, solutions and support needed to be courageous in their thought and actions. Other work is also being connected within Childrens and Adults PSW network and drawing links with WMTP and making contact with EDI leads to identify what we can do together. Want to know more or would like to get involved? Let us know your thoughts - info@wmchildrensservices.org.uk





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