A social worker who also advises the government on adoption has been awarded a MBE in recognition of his services to children.
Al Coates, an adoptive father of six who qualified as a social worker in 2013, was among many recognised names in the social care sector who received awards in this year’s New Year’s Honours.
Coates left his role as a project manager in a small local steel company in 2008 to care for his growing family. He is known for his awareness raising activities in support for families raising children with behavourial issues arising from trauma.
After qualifying as a social worker he started his blog covering the ‘misadventures’ of an adoptive dad, and regularly runs podcasts on adoption and fostering.
He is a fostering manager of the charity Phoenix Community Care, a North London-based agency that deals with foster care and asylum-seeking teenagers.
Coates told Community Care he was “slightly embarrassed”, adding “there are many people that work as hard as me, if not harder”.
“I get so much from what I do, and I enjoy it. To know I am helping other people is a privilege.”
Coates said his aims for the next year will be to launch a survey on the often neglected topic of child to parent violence in an attempt to develop a greater understanding of the impact, causes and support required for adoptive parents and their families.
Social care honours
Directors of children’s and adults social care services were also recognised in this year’s honours, including Alan Wood, a government advisor and former president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), who was granted a knighthood.
Wood was director of children’s and young people’s service at the London Borough of Hackney until 2012. He has served on numerous panels and as chair of an advisory group for the Department of Education assessing the role councils play on young peoples’ lives.
Wood led a government review of local safeguarding children’s boards, published in May 2016, which resulted in recommending an overhaul of locally-based systems and replacing it with a centralised framework. He was awarded a CBE in 2011.
Dave Hill, executive director of social care and education at Essex council was awarded a CBE for services to children’s social care. Hill was another former president of the ADCS, serving until March last year.
Also receiving a CBE was Nick Whitfield, chief executive of Achieving for Children, which is jointly owned by Richmond, Kingston, Maidenhead and Windsor councils, and manages the councils’ children’s services. Richmond council was recently judged good in its latest Ofsted inspection, with its move into a community interest company said to have ‘added value’ to social work services.
North Yorkshire County Council counted two of its senior figures in the roll call of honours. Judith Hay, assistant director for children and families and Martin Kelly, head of resources for children and young people’s services both received an OBE. Richard Morris, assistant director at the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), was awarded an MBE.
Adult social services honours
Ray James, former president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, and acting on secondment from Enfield council as NHS England national director of learning disability, received a CBE for services to adult social services.
Andrea Sutcliffe, chief inspector of adult social care at the Care Quality Commission, was also awarded an CBE, for services to adult social care.