Book review: Nick Stacey and Kent Social Services

Nick Stacey and Kent Social Services

Star rating: 4/5

Don Brand, £5 from PO Box 254, Selling, Faversham, Kent ME13 3AG

Don Brand’s fascinating short study is full of insights gleaned from those who worked with Nick Stacey. It is based largely on Stacey’s time as director of social services in Kent from 1974 to 1985. Now 81, he was the type of chief officer of whom councils were (and remain) suspicious: flamboyant, with a patrician manner, and an inability not to say what he thought in a confident, upper middle-class accent.

Yet his 11-year tenure in Kent transformed not only the department but social care more widely. His most enduring legacy is the country’s first professional fostering scheme, which demolished the idea that some children are unfosterable. He also pioneered an intensive, local form of tailored home care for older people who would otherwise have gone into residential homes. In 1988, when Sir Roy Griffiths published his inquiry into community care, he acknowledged that his reforms were much influenced by what he had observed in Kent.

Nick Stacey was a rare, perhaps unique, director, in that his influence has lasted and is felt far outside his own local authority’s boundaries.

Terry Philpot is the author of Understanding Child Abuse. The Partners of Sex Offenders Tell Their Stories

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