Improving children’s services

I attended a working dinner this week with a group of local authority leaders on the subject of improving children’s services. It was under Chatham House rules, so I will respect the anonymity of the comments made by the other attendees. But the conversation did make me think, and I’d value your views.

What struck me was the almost complete focus on structural solutions and on the role of individuals in senior leadership positions in transforming children’s services.  I can’t help thinking that it is leadership at all levels, along with professionalism, mutual trust and confidence, that has got us to the point in Staffordshire where we have the excellent Children’s Services that we have.

One of my aims since arriving in this role just over 2 years ago has been to align responsibility with accountability and authority.  I would be the first to acknowledge the role of leadership in success, but my experience in many appointments is that you’re only as good as the people whom you lead.

We have an ambitious programme in the Children’s System to reduce the number of Looked After Children, and to produce better outcomes for those for whom we become the corporate parent; these will require our combined efforts, whether you are a child protection social worker, a family support worker, work in a Local Support Team, or in a supporting role such as ICT, or indeed as a senior leader.  As those of us know who are involved in this complex business, there are no easy solutions. Despite that, I have confidence that we have the right people and the right plan.


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