CHILDREN FIRST AND AT THE HEART OF ALL WE DO

DUDLEY CHILDREN'S SOCIAL CARE

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Children's social care services

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Catherine Driscoll 

Director for Children’s Services, Dudley Council

Dudley Council has the highest ambitions for our children and young people.

Revitalised council leadership arrangements, a cross political and partner improvement programme have accelerated our efforts to support and strengthened the services that we deliver to children and families. Alongside this there is momentum and a strong commitment to building and strengthening  our alliances with partners to improve our collective offer to children and young people. Where strengths are discovered, they will be built upon and where weaknesses are found, they will be challenged and overcome.

 

We are fully supported by our Elected Members and there is a commitment across the partnerships to work holistically with us and to support us. One of our primary focuses has been upon delivering a comprehensive learning and development programme for children’s social care staff provides by our innovative Centre for Professional Practice. This will  to focus on early help for families and our innovative multi-agency safeguarding hub. This is fundamental to redesigning the support for the child in his/her journey throughout the early stages of their life.  At the core of this early help strategy and working model is a right first time, every time ethos.

 

The service areas

Children’s social care services are provided through four service areas. Social care staff may choose to work in any of these areas.

Family solutions

Family Solutions encompasses a broad range of services including:

Family Centres (including Family Support, Supporting Families, Family Hubs and (Start for Life), Youth Service, Integrated Early Years, Parenting, SENDIASS, Education Psychology, Family Group Conferencing and Child Friendly Dudley.

 

The primary function of Family Solutions is the delivery of Early Help in Dudley. This aims to support children, young people and families at an early stage so that the escalation of any possible or potential problems can be avoided. We have made excellent progress over the last three years in delivering a robust Early Help Offer which is built around a solid foundation of five family centres that act as local, community-based hubs that serve to coordinate the effective and timely delivery of Early Help support in Dudley. The Early Help Strategy 2021-2024 will build on these successes with an even stronger emphasis on building family resilience and enabling a more "self-serve" approach which families had told us that they want.

 

Although there are many specialisms that make up Family Solutions,  the team share a common goal of being able to offer the right support at the right time for all families that require help in Dudley.

 

Our teamwork is second to none and partnership working is our forte. As a team we are constantly evolving and we are about to embark on a new phase of our journey. We have recently been working closely with the Early Intervention Foundation through the Early Years Transformation Academy to develop our approach to children's first 1001 days and have a  newly formed Integrated Early Years team to support in driving this work forward.

 

Family Solutions is also leading on the development of the Child Friendly Dudley agenda and have clear aspirations of making Dudley a "Child Friendly" Borough where every child has the right to grow up in an environment where they feel safe to play, learn and grow. A place where they have access to public services and where their voice is heard and matters.

Children and families, safeguarding and support

This services covers the authority’s out of hours service (Emergency Duty Team for adults and children) and our Front Door through our Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) 

 

For children in need, in need of protection or in need of becoming looked after we work directly alongside families through our Assessment Service and our Care Management teams.

 

Our service includes a dedicated Court Team, which covers most but not all of our family court work.  We also lead for exploitation across the Authority through D.Ex Hub, our exploitation team which includes dedicated social workers and works closely with partners,  including our colleagues focussed on Prevent and Radicalisation.

 

Where children are unable to remain at home and where alternative permanency arrangements are best for the child, our partners in Adoption @ Heart (our regional adoption agency) work hand in hand with us finding families and supporting the move.

Children in care and placement

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This service is responsible for discharging  the council’s corporate parenting duty. It also manages the following services:

 

CHILDREN IN CARE AND CARE LEAVERS’ SERVICE

Responsible for those children who have a plan for permanence. These children reside with foster carers, connected persons or in residential placements. For a small number of children there are specific arrangements for them to reside at home with their parents.

 

CARE LEAVERS TEAM

The team provides advice, guidance and support to young people leaving care to maximise their life opportunities as they move into independence.

 

FOSTERING TEAM

The fostering team is responsible for the recruitment, assessment, support and training of both mainstream and family and friends carers.  

 

ADOPTION TEAM

Our adoption team works closely with the regional adoption agency (RAA) Adoption@ Heart, to match and place children with a plan of adoption.  The service also provides adoption and special guardianship order support.

 

CHILDREN’S HOMES

In Dudley we have three children’s homes which provide residential care to a range of children and young people, including children with disabilities.

 

LOOKED AFTER & ADOPTED CHILDREN’S PSYCHOLOGY SERVICE

This service provides highly specialist psychological and therapeutic support for the borough’s looked after and adopted children, young people, families, carers and other professionals involved in their care.

Safeguarding & review service

The Safeguarding, Practice and Quality Assurance Service is responsible for the quality assurance and safeguarding arrangements for children in Dudley.  Within the Service there are the following service areas:

 

SAFEGUARDING AND REVIEW

The Team consists of Independent Reviewing Officers, Child Protection Conference Chairs, Foster Home Reviewing Officers and the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) function. 

 

Independent Reviewing Officers are allocated to children who are in care, with the responsibility for Chairing the Child in Care Reviews, scrutinising and ratifying the Care Plan, supporting children and young people to participate in their Reviews, alongside providing quality assurance of the Local Authority’s Care Plan and support provided to the child. 

 

Child protection Conference Chairs are independent chairs of multi-agency Child Protection Conferences with the responsibility to facilitate and co-ordinate initial and review Conferences to ensure there is a multi-agency plan that will reduce the risks to the child. 

Foster Home Reviewing Officers chair annual reviews of the Local Authority Foster Carers to ensure all statutory requirements are being adhered to within placements, and support and training needs are reviewed for the Carers.  

 

The LADO is responsible for advising on and managing allegations against people who work with children in a voluntary or paid employment; where necessary the LADO will chair Position of Trust meetings to coordinate any investigation.

 

CENTRE FOR PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE

The Team consists of a Service Manager and 4 Advanced Social Work Practitioners who support the Principal Social Work function.  CPP is supported by a Business Support Officer and an Apprentice. 

 

The Team are responsible for managing the audit and quality assurance processes within Children’s Services and coordinating the training and development needs of practitioners within Children’s Services.  The Team manage the Student Social Work placements and the Assisted First Year in Social Work processes. 

 

SAFEGUARDING IN EDUCATION

The Team consists of a Safeguarding In Education Lead and a Safeguarding in Education Trainer who are responsible for the compliance and development of schools’ safeguarding arrangements, legislative requirements/statutory duties, policies, procedures and training, ensuring they are implemented in schools so children/young people are safe and protected from harm

 

DUDLEY SAFEGUARDING PEOPLE PARTNERSHIP

 The Business Manager and Team coordinate the partnership arrangements to reflect both our legal responsibilities to comply with the Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) statutory framework and also our shared ambition and commitment as the three statutory partners to helping the most vulnerable people in Dudley across the whole life course.

This is an exciting time to join the children’s services team in Dudley as our new approach takes shape.  We are looking for people to share their experiences and bring new ideas and energy to the team.