Awards: Barking and Dagenham - children's services
The award recognised the way Barking and Dagenham LBC involves children, young people and their parents to deliver significantly improved outcomes.
The council used innovative ways to engage with black and minority ethnic groups, children in care and those with learning difficulties in ways that move away from traditional forms of consultation including the use of new media.
Methods ranged from young-person led inspections, to short films, ‘virals’ distributed among young people using Bluetooth technology, petitions and awareness-raising campaigns.
All engagement work is rooted in local priorities as set out in the council’s Children and Young People’s Plan, Community Strategy and Local Area Agreement. In turn, forums set up to engage with children, young people and parents feeds back service users’ opinions to the very highest level.
Various other structures are in place routinely to involve children and young people in shaping services. Last year more than 2,000 children and young people were reached via nearly 100 consultations. Engagement activity includes:
- Young People’s Safety Group, which acts as the shadow Local Safeguarding Children’s Board. Chaired by a young care leaver, it feeds directly into the main Local Safeguarding Children’s Board. Barking and Dagenham is the first London borough to have such a board.
- An award-winning short film to tackle homophobic bullying called ‘The Secret’ produced by Barking and Dagenham Youth Forum. Short viral films on alcohol abuse were also produced, as well as a campaign to light the borough’s parks involving the use of snatch cards, posters and a petition which gathered together more than 1,000 signatures from young people.
- Disabled Children’s Parliament. The Young People’s Development Forum, run in partnership with the voluntary sector, pioneers work with children and young people with learning disabilities and conducts at least six formal consultations a year on behalf of the council.
- Young Inspectors. In 2009 the council successfully bid to become part of the Young Inspectors programme, funded by the National Children’s Bureau. Thirty-nine inspectors have been recruited and trained and 35 inspections have taken place to date.
- Parental engagement. Sixteen active parent forums have now been developed, each linked to the borough’s children’s centres, which raise funds and deliver small community projects. These feed into boards and groups led and chaired by local parents, such as the Borough Wide Parents Board.
Rocky Gill (Lab), cabinet member for education and children, said: “It is an honour for Children’s Services to win this award. It recognises how we consult, involve and listen to our local children. They are hugely important and instrumental in services that impact on their lives.
“We are committed and dedicated to our children and young people and this is a huge testament to the work carried out by our children’s services department.”
Helen Jenner, corporate director for children’s services, added: “I would like to congratulate the service for its hard work and dedication.
“The service has looked at the way we consult with children and young people and innovative and cutting edge ways have been implemented to reach them in the most effective way possible.”
The judges’ view
It was felt the winner showed hard evidence of a highly developed, deeply embedded practice that is truly cross sector and cross service – this has really helped in shaping this council.
Children’s Services Award Shortlist
- Durham CC - highly commended
- Swindon Children’s Trust - highly commended
- Glasgow City Council
- Lincolnshire CC
- Southwark LBC
- Swale BC
- Wirral MBC