By Chris Sivers, Director of Children, Adults and Health at South Gloucestershire Council
I’m in a very privileged position at South Gloucestershire Council. Creating the best start in life for children and young people is the first priority in our council plan and investing in young people goes right to the core of what we’re looking to achieve.
But even though we have such great ambitions for our young people, our council finances are tight and any extra funding for children’s services means less to spend on some of the other things my fellow directors are passionate about and the services they are responsible for. I’m fortunate, because I knew when I asked for additional investment earlier this year, our councillors and senior managers would support us if we could show how it would deliver better outcomes for young people.
Why do we need more? Well, we know that it is a highly competitive market for great social workers and if we’re to attract the best people to work for us, we need to demonstrate to them that we are the best. We need to show the ambition we have for our young people, and we need to invest in the things which will allow our staff to make the biggest difference to children and young people.
- We’re significantly expanding our frontline teams. We’ve created 60 new roles, which will mean consistently lower caseloads for our social workers, so they can deliver genuinely child-centred support.
- We’re making it easier for staff to work flexibly, enabling them to work how and where they need to, to do their jobs as well as they can.
- We’re strengthening our reward offer to recognise the fantastic job our staff do.
- We’re adopting clinical supervision to support staff because we recognise that our work can be tough emotionally. It builds on our training offer, helping staff to develop critical thinking skills and support their work with families.
- We’re building early intervention partnership capacity because we know we can achieve better results for families if we get multi-agency working right.
- We’re increasing what we spend on evidence-based specialist expertise and capabilities, including specialist trauma support and an in-house psychologist to support families.
- We’re introducing new initiatives like the Mockingbird extended family model in fostering, a Caring Dads scheme and a new approach to domestic abuse.
- We’re enhancing an already exceptional training and development offer. A new systemic practice academy will drive our focus on relationship based social work.
- Finally, it might be boring, but we’re investing in our systems and processes, because we want them to help us, rather than hold us back in our work.
It’s an ambitious programme of work, but we owe it to our young people and to our skilled, passionate and committed team to get it right. I welcome you to get in contact to find out how you can join us on this exciting journey to give our children and young people the absolute best start in life.
Cabinet member for children’s services Councillor Sam Bromiley on why he pushed for extra investment
I’m the lead member for children’s services, so it sometimes frustrates me that most of my emails are from residents demanding we spend more money on fixing potholes or asking me why their bin wasn’t picked up! It would be easy for me – and certainly for my fellow councillors who don’t have responsibility for children’s services – to push for any new investment to be made in those areas. I’m conscious that there may be South Gloucestershire residents reading this, so I don’t want to give the impression that continuing to deliver an excellent service in those areas isn’t also a priority for us! But as a team we believe we have a more fundamental commitment to our young people.
I see the work our frontline social workers do every day, and time and again I’m blown away by the commitment they show to the families they work with and the difference they make for children and young people who have had such a difficult start in life. That’s why I think this investment is so important. We must demonstrate the ambition we have for our young people, and we must support our staff by giving them the best tools possible they need to continue doing such a fantastic job. I’m really looking forward to seeing what a difference these investments in our service make.
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