Widening opportunity for all and helping raise aspirations with smarter working were behind decisions taken at last week’s Cabinet

We agreed a new way of providing the best start in life for Staffordshire’s under-fives.  We were only reaching a quarter of families who really needed more help and instead of persuading families to come to their nearest children’s centre, which wasn’t working, we are now going to focus more energy and money on providing the right services, in the right place.

The main aim is to increase the percentage of children ready to start school, while reducing the number involved with social services.  We will keep 11 children’s centres to be developed as Family Hubs supporting children of all ages, transfer management of 35 premises to schools and libraries, and offering 11 for alternative use.  Giving our children the best possible start in life is something we all want to see and this new way of working will help us achieve this.

The Care Act which will be rolled out in April will see sweeping changes across the country, and over the coming months we will be looking at how we implement the changes here in Staffordshire.  One of our key priorities is to ensure people receive the right support to lead healthy, rewarding lives and remain happy and independent, so it’s important we get it right.

In recent years, we have seen even more people choose to receive more tailored, flexible packages of support to suit them, their needs and their lives and it is great to see so many go on to really flourish as part of their own communities.  As we grow older we will all need support of some degree, and the introduction of the Care Act is a huge opportunity to make sure we are able to get the right advice or support when that time comes.

As you may already know we will be hosting the 2015 UK Corporate Games in June and it’s good to hear that we’ve already got over 3,000 competitors from more than 50 top UK companies signed up.  Ernst and Young will be entering their 20th consecutive Games with 200 entrants and Towers Watson will celebrate 10 consecutive years with 150 entrants.  Virgin Trains are set to field over 100 entrants and Vodafone and CSC over 300 entrants each.

While it is wonderful to be able to welcome such high profile companies to the county, I would also like to see some of our own local businesses sign up too.  Hosting the Games is expected to generate over £2.5 million for the local economy and give us a great opportunity to showcase what we have to offer.

This week we are launching our latest fostering campaign which is asking people to foster a child and change a life in 2015.  Every day in Staffordshire more than 700 children live with over 380 foster families because they are unable to live at home.

Whatever their experiences, many of them will be suffering the trauma of being separated from their own families and will need love, support and stability.  Foster carers can provide these children with what they need and over the next year we want to recruit another 60 families.  I would encourage people who have the desire to help and the love to give, to please get in touch with our Fostering service at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/fostering

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