Our strategy for improving children’s services

Cllr Brigid Jones

Cllr Brigid Jones

Councillor Brigid Jones has set out a strategy for transforming Birmingham’s children’s services, including a major financial investment in frontline services.

The strategy for improving outcomes for children and young people in Birmingham sets out a vision for sustained improvement of children’s services, based on a multi-agency approach.

The cabinet member for children and family services, said: “It is clear that we cannot go on as we are, with years of initiatives and restructures resulting in little real change. We have made significant progress in the last six months but this has to be sustainable and it must involve our partners. We cannot do this alone.

“To that end, this strategy acknowledges but draws a line under what has gone before and sets out clearly and unambiguously that the future lies in an integrated system for joint commissioning and delivery of children’s services.

“We have the capacity and ability to succeed but we do need to have the right support in place, and that will come from a network of partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors.

“Although this strategy is about all of children’s services, social care remains the focus of our immediate improvement plans and we must get the basics right.  And with the appointment of Peter Hay I believe we have the right person to drive through this transformation with the support and confidence of staff and partners.”

The strategy sets out five options for the future of the service: break up Birmingham; outsource children’s services; establish a trust accountable to the DfE; establish a trust accountable to BCC; integrated transformation.

“We have looked seriously at all possible options, weighing how each option will address the issues we face; doing nothing is not an option. It is clear that the best way forward is through integrated transformation and we will be setting out this framework for improvement to the government reviewers who are currently testing our improvement processes,” Cllr Jones added.

The strategy will focus on three core tenets: focus on the front line by recruiting and retaining great social workers; ensuring sustainable improvements by working with partners; being a more effective commissioner of services and strengthening inter-agency governance.

There will also be a major financial investment, with almost £10 million pumped into the frontline service – funding for children’s social care has been significantly less in Birmingham than in similar core cities for years.

This will help recruit and retain experienced social workers, through initiatives such as benchmarking pay rates across neighbouring authorities, introductory payments, and reducing the time it takes to fill posts.

Cllr Jones added: “If we reinvigorate the way we recruit and retain staff this will help improve Birmingham’s profile so it is seen as somewhere social workers want to work.”

The next six months will see a focus on stabilising the service, engaging partners, reviewing children’s centres, early years and family support, and reviewing our relationship with schools.

The reports will go to cabinet on Monday 16 December 2013.

For the cabinet report and strategy document see - 

http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/democracy/Pages/AgendaDetail.aspx?AgendaID%3d76688

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