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Regional Update – February 2024

Updated: Mar 22

From Coventry’s DCS


This is my first time writing the introduction for Regional Update.  I guess that suggests I am a “new kid on the block”, which in DCS terms I am, having picked up the reins here in Coventry, last July.  But as many of you will know, I have been here in the West Midlands, and indeed in this local authority, since 2017, initially as Strategic Lead for Quality Assurance.  I mention this because I think it’s important to recognise that whilst people come and go, good succession planning reduces the impact of change.  So, whilst my appointment is on an interim basis, it will ensure a consistent handover to whoever secures the role permanently.


Whilst on the subject of change, you will of course, all be aware of the numerous consultations that have recently been initiated regarding the way we will work in the future. Amongst these is the Child and family social workers: agency rules statutory guidance.  I think it is fair to say that everybody has an opinion on the way the agency market has evolved over recent years, some will think for better, others for worse. Needless to say, whichever side of the fence you sit, responding to the consultation is important, we will be as a Network of DCS’s, and I would encourage you to as well.  Also, amongst an avalanche of papers that landed from the DfE in December, was information about changes to Working Together.  Whilst this consultation has now closed, and again, I hope you took time to respond, it is still worth taking a look at the detail.  After all, Working Together is probably the single most important document that spans our entire directorates.


I am proud to say that in Coventry, and no doubt across the whole of the West Midlands, children are at the heart of what we do, so it is important that we remember the key role the voices of our children, young people and families play in continuing to drive improvements across the region.


The participation workstream have developed a strong participation strategy that has been signed off across the region based on the 5 i's (invest, inform, involve, influence, impact) developed with our young people to bring consistency to our practice. In Coventry the work to become a child friendly city has been driven by children and young people as has the regional work on developing a regional local offer for care leavers.


In a couple of other good news stories, colleagues from Coventry, including one of our parents, has recently made a presentation in Parliament in recognition of our work implementing the NSPCC Reunification programme.  We also have some very exciting news, as we have been shortlisted for three awards for our Collaborative Fostering Film, which was aimed at raising the profile of fostering in the city.  Of course, these two “shout outs” are just a representation of the outstanding work that happens right across our great region, so on behalf of the DCS Network a massive thank you for your tireless work supporting children and families across the West Midlands.



Kind regards

Neil Macdonald

Regional Team Update:

Ana Davies has taken a secondment as Social Care Academy Manager in Solihull and will transition to this role over the next few weeks. The regional team are making plans for cover which we will share with you in due course.


In the meantime, please contact Paul Brewster for anything that you might usually send to Ana.


Sector Led Improvement Senior Project Officer:

You may recall that we recently offered a secondment opportunity in regard to this post.  We are now delighted to confirm that Sandeep Virk will be joining us, from Birmingham Children’s Trust, for a year at the beginning of next month.


In next months regional update, we will give more detail about how we see this project progressing.


CALL TO ACTION - Flipping the Script – SWE Regional/National Campaign:

Social Work England have extended an opportunity for all West Midlands Colleagues and people with lived Experience to contribute to ‘flipping the script’ on the Social Work Narrative as part of a Local, Regional and likely National Campaign.


We have talked about this many times across all of the region’s networks and it seems Social Work England are driving this forward!

Please see this message from Lara Timms and send your responses directly to her by the end of this week!


Consultation - Agency Rules for Local Authority Children’s Social Care:

Following on from Neil’s comments above, the DfE has commissioned Research in Practice to provide some support to Local Authorities in getting ready to implement the new statutory guidance relating to the engagement of agency child and family social workers. This guidance is currently out for consultation. Research in Practice is working in partnership with Essex County Council and King's College, London on this project, which is known as the National Workload Action Group (NWAG).


Each Local Authority or Trust engaging agency child and family social workers is invited to complete a questionnaire by 23 February 2024.

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


Presented by Dan Gray and Emma Brittain from Worcestershire Children First


2nd May - 13:00-15:00


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


14th May - 11:00-12:30


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


13th June - 13:30-15:00


Presented by Jennifer Arries from Staffordshire County Council


More dates and classes will be announced soon!


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.


Emerging Leaders Apprenticeship Programme:

WM Employers in partnership with SOLACE are running a FREE leadership Programme aimed at Service Managers and Project managers.


For more details, please click here.

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