It’s official – Vulnerable children in Staffordshire are very well protected

Children Services are very much in the news at the moment for all the wrong reasons and one of our overriding priorities is to ensure that vulnerable children in Staffordshire are safe and I am delighted to report to you that our Families First services has been rated as ‘Good’ by Ofsted.

While worrying that children should ever be put at risk, this is obviously good news, especially in light of the fact that we were one of the very first authorities to face the much tougher Ofsted inspection regime. The Head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, himself told MPs that this would result in more than 100 children’s services departments in England and Wales being rated as ‘Inadequate’, or ‘in need of immediate improvement’.

This is the result of a lot of hard work since we were judged as under-performing in some areas only two years ago. This rating recognises our excellent, and even trailblazing, safeguarding procedures, our good quality services, how our early intervention practices are appropriate and effective, that those leaving our care are safe and supported, and most importantly, how we listen and take account of the needs and the voice of the child in all that we do.

But the county council can’t take all of the credit. Our work to keep children safe and help them succeed and achieve is a partnership effort. Our partners, which include the Police, the NHS, the third sector and schools, all have a part to play. The Staffordshire Children’s Safeguarding Board is also instrumental in making a difference to children and acting as a critical friend to us. I thank them all for their continuing support in this most important work.

At this point though, I’d like to highlight the tremendous work of our staff – a team of dedicated professionals who have worked very hard to achieve this result. Yes, we’ve increased investment in providing the right support and training for social workers, but it’s the enthusiasm of our staff to achieve change and improve, improve, improve that has made the difference.

But we should never be complacent. Of course there is always room for improvement and we will continue to improve at pace. At the same time though, we’ll be working with other authorities to pass on those ways of working that work well. There is nothing more important than keeping children safe. They are the future.

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