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Regional Update – February 2023

Shropshire has a reputation as one of the country’s best kept secrets with stunning market towns and quirky places all set in glorious countryside. But running children’s social care services in such a location brings with it major challenges. So, when the Regional Team asked me to write this introduction, I thought it might be of interest for me to share some of the initiatives, and challenges that working in a less urban environment bring.

We’re one of the largest English councils by area with some very rural locations where it costs significantly more to run services. With this rurality comes a series of different challenges, including access to council and health services that can be many miles apart, limited transport and more limited opportunities, set against an ever bigger ageing population dominating social care resources.

Shropshire is also known as the birthplace of industry and we now have to be even more creative than ever to find new solutions that offset some of those challenges of rurality.

Take our “Test and Learn” site that we’re developing in North Shropshire. It’s truly a test and learn approach where our social work teams are co-located and work together with public health and other health colleagues to help children and young people right through from birth until they leave school or training.

This close working with children and young people and their families is sweeping away barriers that in the past have limited us and partners from doing the best we can and, working with families we are coming up with some really ground-breaking ideas.

We’ve a truly multi-disciplinary team of partners developing a community-led offer that begins with the most vulnerable. It’s based on clear need too, using data and intelligence to identify where and when we get involved and to truly think family.

In every sense, it’s producing some amazing results. Families are together finding solutions and social care referrals are dropping. The feedback from colleagues is incredible and empowering too. After the pressures of the pandemic, they feel they’re making a real difference and getting even greater job satisfaction. At a time when recruitment is an issue for us all, this is a very welcome bonus.

Like the spring flowers just starting to show, these initiatives are already beginning to bear fruit here in Shropshire. So, I am looking forward to sharing our progress at our annual Peer Challenge event, next month. Of course, I am equally as excited to hear about the successes of each of the other local authority areas in the West Midlands, because that is the spirit of sector led improvement.

Looking ahead, obviously the Government have responded to the recommendations of the Care Review, and whilst their plans are not as ambitious as we may have liked, there is still plenty for us to reflect upon. The DCS Network are meeting for a full days development session, in March, and this is the core issue that we will be discussing, so watch this space and we will share our thoughts in next months Regional Update.

For now, that just leaves me to thank you all, for your continued support, enthusiasm and for doing all you do for children and young people in the West Midlands. Please, please take care of yourselves and make sure that you find time to enjoy all that spring has to offer.

Best wishes

Tanya Miles

Changes in Network leadership:

A couple of our workstreams and sub-streams are needing to identify new chairs, or co-chairs. These are:

· Participation Leads Network – co-chair

· Strategic Commissioning Network – chair

· Regional Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board – co-chair

Leading a regional network is a great way to gain experience of wider strategic challenges and is a good opportunity to develop a broader skill set.

If any of the above are of interest, please contact the Regional Team, or the current workstream chair for a chat.

What is in regional working?

We recognise that we regularly welcome new leaders into the WM ADCS network and as a support team, we aim to achieve this through introduction meetings and in directing you to the appropriate guidance. As a snapshot reference you can access the regional Induction/reference handbook here.

Key Events:

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.

Upon Programme:

Encouraging new and aspiring Directors of Children’s Services to become inspirational leaders and the positive change-makers the UK’s young people depend upon.

Applications for the Staff College’s 2023 Upon Aspirant Directors Programme close on 27th February.

Details can be found here.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion:

If you don’t already know about the LeadHERship programme for women of colour in your LA , you may want to make this your business. The applications have closed and places on the programme for upcoming heads of service or equivalent will be confirmed imminently. Why make it your business? Because the women on this programme have the skills, experience, and know how to create a leadership culture that will support your organisations to go from strength to strength. We had 140 women show an interest in the programme and with just 20 places on this cohort – this may be food for thought about the programmes that we prioritise regionally and within your councils and Trusts. What is your next move?

We recently ran the first of our Anti-Racist Leadership Community of Practice sessions for colleagues who attended the Culture, Diversity and Anti-Racist Leadership programmes last year. This is a great space for leaders to challenge, support and celebrate progress being made across the region. Next step is to consider broadening the community and we will be coming back to you over the next few months with a proposal of how we take things forward.

The PSW Network , WMTP and WME are underway with initial plans to collaborate and set goals for a regional approach to Anti-Racist Practice, Allyship and the impact of intersectionality with a view to setting up further communities of practice, Masterclasses and resource hub for the sharing of excellent practice across the region. Beyond this there are several opportunities that are in development with WME which we will update you on as we know more!

Finally, Data ,Data, Data ....You may find that your resident Practice and Quality lead is coming to you from every angle of the networks to think about your E, D and I data. I’m asking you - how we can develop the right questions for workforce data so that we can use this to understand our current positions on diversity in our workforce (and particularly leadership level) and ultimately use this to help inform next steps and measure success! Whilst I know there is no hard and fast answer, the workforce needs leaders like you to pave the way for change...

Have you got any more suggestions about what you would like to see us doing as a region? If so, please email

Accelerating inclusion through Allyship:

Offered through West Midlands Employers and aimed at senior leaders, details can be found here.

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