Early Intervention and Safeguarding
In 2013, Calderdale’s children’s services were judged to be inadequate by Ofsted. They have since radically improved from early help through to permanence for children in care. The entire service has been transformed using innovative, evidence-based, integrated approaches, and others now come to Calderdale to learn from best practice. Improvement has been driven by creative leadership, listening to the voices of children, strong partnership with families, schools and partners and a willingness to experiment. Ofsted found in June 2017 that Calderdale was clearly set on developing and improving its children’s journeys into permanent homes with strong management oversight and well-established checkpoints reducing drift and delay.
Central Bedfordshire Council
Putting Children, Young People and Families First
A social work academy has been created in Central Bedfordshire to spread a learning culture in which social work can flourish, and which has contributed to improving workforce stability. Its success is in part the result of young people being involved in recruitment, induction training and the evaluation of social workers as part of a council commitment to involve staff, children and young people in shaping children’s services. There is a single ‘front door’ for anyone requiring information about services for children and young people, which ensures effective join-up between early help and social care with joint triage for each case.
Cheshire East Council
Emotionally Healthy Schools
As one young person said: “The Emotionally Healthy Schools project has taught us that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ as everyone is different and we all think and feel in different ways.” Emotional health tends to be secondary to physical health but Cheshire East’s project provides whole-school and targeted interventions to improve pupils’ lives. It focuses on improving resilience across schools, and on developing teaching staff to ensure they meet the mental health and wellbeing needs of those they teach. An independent evaluation found a reduction in mental health services referral rates and increased understanding among students of the importance of seeking help.
Kingston-upon-Thames RBC, Richmond-upon-Thames LBC and Windsor & Maidenhead RBC
Achieving for Children
Achieving for Children is a community interest company jointly owned by the three councils to deliver their children’s services. The model has joined a public service ethos to an entrepreneurial spirit, and has helped to protect frontline posts by saving more than £6m by sharing management and back-office costs. It has helped with staff recruitment and retention, and its youth offending service has become the first in London awarded the Restorative Practice Quality Mark, while the substance misuse service has worked intensively with 67 young people. Achieving for Children is among seven Partners in Practice designated by the Department for Education to lead sector improvement.
Merton received a glowing endorsement from regulator Ofsted in 2017, judging it as offering “services that are dynamic, ambitious and successful”, with exceptional leadership, governance and strong frontline management. This was the culmination of five years’ work since a previous inspection, when services had been rated good. Innovations included a refreshed wellbeing model, a strong improvement trajectory across schools, achieving engagement to deliver Children and Families Act reforms and increased social worker numbers. Merton redesigned its early help services and improved the tracking of and response to missing children. Some 91% of single assessments completed on time in 2016-17 compared with 61% in 2012-13.
North East Lincolnshire Council
Creating Strong Communities
The council recognised that it had too many children in need, looked after or on protection plans and instigated sweeping changes. It now uses outcome-based accountability, restorative practice to resolve conflicts at the earliest stage and ‘signs of safety’, which enables practitioners to collaborate with families using the same language and methods, and family group conferencing. The children and families service has recently been rated good by Ofsted and since April 2015 re-referrals have fallen by 75% and the number of child protection plans by 30%. Fewer than 1,000 families accessed support last year, despite 55% living in the top 10% deprived wards in England.
Edge of Care Services
An innovative package of intensive support to families on the edge of care has avoided the need for costly statutory interventions. More than 80% of the 524 children supported by the Edge of Care Service in 2016-17 were able to stay with their families, giving them the chance of a better life and saving the council some £2m. The service offers a same-day response to 11-17 year olds at immediate risk of coming into care and supports young people in long-term placements to return home with about six months’ intensive, individualised support. Families are helped with responding to concerns and to remain at home or return from care.
A word from the award’s sponor
iMPOWER is proud to be the sponsor of the 2018 LGC award for children’s services. With growing demand and ongoing funding pressures, it can be easy to overlook the incredible achievements of those working at the frontline. Children and young people deserve our attention, and these awards remind us all that we should never give up striving for the best possible outcomes for them.
Martin Cresswell, vice-chair and acting chief executive, Impower
Ian Davis, chief executive, Enfield LBC
Martin Esom, chief executive, Waltham Forest LBC
Zina Etheridge, interim chief executive, Haringey LBC
Tony Hunter, chief executive, Social Care Institute for Excellence