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Regional Update – January 2024

From our Early Help & Targeted Support DCS Sponsor

How time flies!  I last wrote an introduction for the Regional Update 18 months ago.  Since then, almost inevitably, there has been change.  Some for the better, some for the worse, and some for reasons we just cannot fathom, like why we have had four new Secretaries of State in that time.

Going back to July 2022, I remember writing about how it was an interesting time for early help and how the Care Review had reignited the conversation about “prevention” over “cure”.  Family Hubs were also at the forefront of “innovation”, although let’s be honest, they are an evolvement of a previous, and very effective model, but I won’t tell Whitehall that, if you don’t.  All of this remains true and to that end the landscape could be said to be developing, rather than changing.  What has changed is the pressure on resources, that we are all facing and the potential for the focus to shift towards statutory over preventative.

What definitely hasn’t changed, certainly in the West Midlands early help arena, but more broadly across all of our regional networks, is our great community of practice.  This only gets stronger.  In early help, we continue to have regular, well attended meetings and we focus on the issues that matter.  Additionally, we have built a strong set of performance indicators and are using these to drive performance across all 14 local authority areas.  So, whilst it is true that monetary resources are important, I would argue that the commitment and vision of our human resource is as significant.  In the West Midlands we have that in spades, and I truly thank you.

I am aware, that the above may sound like a “swan song” and I must confess, it is!  This will be my last message before I head off to Buckinghamshire, so it is farewell from me too.  I’d like to thank all my DCS colleagues and their teams and partners for all the work you do to improve outcomes for CYP across our region.  Please continue the wonderful work you do, and remember, don’t take your eye off of preventative services, even when the financial going is tough.  In the end, early help pounds pay dividends.

Kind regards

Michael W Jarrett MBE


The Regional Team would like to wish you all a Happy New Year and remind you that January brings a lot of activity to the West Midlands.


This edition of Regional Update, contains a lot of detail, but we appreciate your time to read it.


Across the last couple of months there have been some new DCS appointments.  As a reminder:


·       James Thomas has joined Birmingham Children’s Trust as their CEO

·       Beate Wagner is now the DCS of Solihull

·       Simon White has been appointed as the DCS in Stoke on Trent


We welcome all three to the region, each brings a wealth of experience, and we are looking forward to working with them once they have settled into the day job!


We are looking to maximise regional engagement at the following events.  Please ensure your LA is represented!


5th Feb – The Front Door Process and National Policy Changes – A Joint Event between WM ADCS and Probation and Safeguarding Service. This will cover national updates with a particular focus on Working Together 2023 and probation safeguarding policy, learning from each LAs Front Door practice and consideration for how this might develop going forward. Each LA has a Front Door Manager or HOS invited and if they are not available, please ensure they send a delegate. Please contact Ana Davies with any queries,  or if you are not sure if your LA is represented


16th Feb - Putting Participation on the Map – Your Participation Leads and young people from each LA are invited to lead and co-develop training for young people and anyone working with them, to understand what participation is and how it goes way beyond the realms of children’s services. If you are not sure if your LA is involved, please speak with your Participation leads network rep or ask a member of the regional team.


Key Events:


Regional Master Classes:

Each year our 14 Councils and Trusts share their good practice across the breadth of children’s services in the form of online Master classes. Don’t miss your chance to book onto as many as you like and benefit from the wealth of experience the region brings! Booking is via the links below:


11th April - 13:30-14:30

Consistency in Management Decision Making


Presented by Dan Gray and Emma Brittain from Worcestershire Children First


2nd May - 13:00-15:00

Relational Working – Working with not to


Resented by Dan Machin and Louise Spragg from Telford and Wrekin Council


14th May - 11:00-12:30

Focussing on the child, not the process


Presented by Niall O’Connor and Dijon Foster from City of Wolverhampton Council


13th June - 13:30-15:00

Restorative Practice


Presented by Jennifer Arries from Staffordshire County Council


More dates and classes will be announced soon!


Staff College Festival:

This is your opportunity to attend any of the virtual development events for free, including from our very own WM ADCS Executive Lead – Mike Bowden, who will be presenting Who me? The accidental DCS


For full details of the entire programme, and to book, click here.


Coram’s CII Innovation Forum - 2nd February 2024:

An Innovation Forum hosted by the Coram Innovation Incubator is being held in central London on Friday 2nd February 2024 from 10am-1:30pm.


The Forum brings together like-minded professionals from across children’s services to inspire discussion on how we can galvanise innovation to create better outcomes for children, young people and families.


Further details can be found here.


To book please follow this link.


CE Partnership and Practice Learning forum run by NWG:

The session takes place on the 29th February from 10:30 until 12:30. Sign up using this link.


Free training via Adoption England and East of Anglia University:

The webinar series will allow for an in-depth examination of a wide range of topics related to planning and supporting safe and meaningful connections between adopted children and their birth families after adoption.


Sign up to all upcoming webinar events available via this link.


UASC Age Assessments Training:

Now fully booked. We are looking to source an additional date and will distribute to Principal Social Workers once identified. In the meantime, please link in with your colleagues who are attending the train the trainer element for dates they could run themselves going forward.


West Midlands Region - Local Government T Level Partnerships Event:

Developing the future local government workforce with the support of Further Education, Sixth Form colleges and Schools

Date: Tuesday 30th January 2024 - 9.30am - 14.30pm

Venue: Millennium Point Birmingham


For further details, please click here.


Steps to Stronger Partnerships:

24 January 2024 from 10am to 4pm, at the Legacy Centre of Excellence.


This event is being organised by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner and the target audience is from the seven Metropolitan Boroughs.


The aims of the conference include providing a forum to share best practice at a West Midlands level, so that practitioners can learn from each other and build on the amazing work which is already taking place.


For more details, please click here.

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