Dr Lee-Anne Farach, Director of People at LGIU member Medway Council, writes for us about the recent progress the council has made in improving its children’s services provision.
In July we welcomed the publication of a letter by Ofsted following a recent focused visit to Medway Council’s Children’s Services. The letter recognises the further progress that we’ve made in improving our services for children and young people in a number of areas across Medway. I’m so proud of the team for these achievements, particularly during the additional challenges imposed on our service by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our senior leadership team has established a strong foundation for social work practice and their swift and dynamic response to the pandemic critically ensured that the most vulnerable children were seen regularly and the service remained responsive to the views of its social workers, supporting them throughout this period.
Ofsted recognised the strengthened relationships between Medway and our partner agencies which have promoted effective coordination of support provision to children and their families. Of particular note during the course of the pandemic was the close working relationship with community groups and schools which led to better communication and joined-up working to maintain children’s attendance, including that of vulnerable children.
We were also commended for our multi-agency safeguarding hub. Ofsted welcomed our new model of working alongside a revised threshold document and its positive impact on the quality and timeliness of referrals received from partner agencies and application of social work thresholds and decision making.
A primary concern of ours which Ofsted recognised surrounded improving the stability, experience and skills of the council’s Children’s Services workforce. With increased staffing levels, we saw a reduction in caseloads to manageable levels and greater opportunities for our social workers to more effectively maintain contact with the young people in their care.
We’re pleased that inspectors felt our social workers have been well supported during the pandemic, both in terms of access to managers and training but also importantly around safety through guidance, support and personal protective equipment. This certainly reflects the views of our social workers, whose experience of the measures put in place have been overwhelmingly positive.
I would like to thank every single member of the team who has worked so hard in very difficult circumstances over the past 16 months. Supporting our social workers is essential to our helping children and young people in Medway and it’s our mission to continue improving our children’s services so we can do this to the best of our abilities.
All of our work with children and young people in Medway supports our ambition of becoming a Child-Friendly City, putting our youngest residents at the heart of everything we do.
I am also delighted that our new approach is attracting more social workers to join our teams as we go from strength to strength. We’re now looking for dedicated and ambitious qualified social workers to join us on this journey of improvement which puts families at the heart of everything we do. I can’t think of a more exciting time to welcome more members to the services here at Medway.