A shared approach to improving the services we provide for children and families is always better than working in isolation. Thankfully, during my time as chair of West Midlands Children’s Services I have seen some excellent examples of what can be achieved by working together.
As I step down as chair of this important network, I’ve been looking back at how we retain our individuality as local authorities, while striving for the same positive outcomes.
As Director of People at Telford and Wrekin Council, I know about challenges each of us face.
Managing safeguarding pressures has been a challenge for the whole region, along with reducing budgets, increased demand and increased commissioning priorities. We have been able to look at how we manage risk and demand as a region, by looking at how others have tackled it.
Through the Future Social programme we are looking at how we can reduce the dependency on agency staff, something we all need to address, such as how we can introduce pay bands for social work position across the West Midlands. That will have a huge impact on staff wellbeing and shaping the future of service delivery.
Funding will always be top of most people’s agendas, which is why it was particularly pleasing that we were able to secure £60,000 for the Safe Centre feasibility study and £ 300,000 Regional Improvement Alliance, which will enable the 14 Local Authorities to support each other with improvement activity.
It is vital we continue to strengthen relationships with the Department for Education and the Local Government Association to develop solutions, remove barriers and to influence government policy. One, consistent voice is essential to doing this.
By working together to get the basics right we can improve our practice and safely improve outcomes for children, young people and families across the region.
It’s been a really honour and a privilege to work with some incredible people who are passionate about improving the lives of children and families. Thank you to all of you who have worked so hard, individually and together.
Chair of West Midlands Children’s Services and Director of People at Telford and Wrekin Council