Director's statement, Children's Services
Steve Crocker - Director of Children’s Services
While our focus is always on further improving outcomes for children, by making changes in our practice our social workers are also seeing the personal benefits. We are committed to promoting working conditions that are safe, supportive and encouraging; with positive team support and regular supervision, including peer supervision. Although keen to attract experienced social workers, this is not at the expense of creating opportunities for newly qualified social workers. The quality of our front line staff has been crucial in making sure we secure the best possible outcomes for vulnerable children.
Kathy Marriott, Area Director for Children’s Services
I’ve had the privilege of working with children and families on the Isle of Wight for the past ten years, five of those working in a children’s services partnership with Hampshire County Council. This unique partnership has delivered significant improvements across children’s social care services, combining high quality strategic management with excellent relationships. These relationships, with the children and families we serve, as well as with colleagues across the council and partner agencies, are at the heart of what makes the Island a special place to live and work. The Isle of Wight’s social workers are dedicated, hardworking and committed to our children and families. My colleagues say they work in a safe and supported environment, which allows them to focus on delivering support to families. As a leadership team we are committed to ensuring our social workers have the space to deliver high quality support and interventions. One of the ways we have achieved this is through the piloting of PAs for social workers, as part of the Department for Education’s Innovation Programme. This approach has now been mainstreamed across our social care teams and has successfully freed up social workers from many administrative tasks, allowing them to dedicate their efforts to improving outcomes. Our management team provide strong oversight of social work practice, supporting and encouraging staff, promoting workforce development opportunities and regular supervision, including peer supervision sessions. The approach we have taken has led to a high retention rate and a much lower than average reliance on agency social workers. That stability is important for children and families but also in terms of our managers, who have been supported in developing their careers across the partnership and understand the challenges that social workers face. To ensure we are able to put the right support around families, we have developed a multi-agency approach with mental health and substance misuse workers based within social care teams. This is the start of a radical and innovative programme in delivering children’s services differently – making the best use of the collective resources available to children and families, through a strengths-based approach. While I certainly work hard – and expect the same from my team – there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy Island life. For me, one of the main benefits of living on the Isle of Wight is the lifestyle. My children have grown up five minutes’ walk from the beach, we live in a lovely community and enjoy the wide variety of outdoor activities the Island has to offer – from sailing, surfing and cycling to music festivals and carnivals.
High quality social work is crucial to children’s services in order to safeguard the Island’s children. We want the best for our children and families and that means recruiting social workers who are as committed as we are to delivering sustained change, improving outcomes and keeping children safe from harm and abuse. We want to hear from good social workers like you to come and join us in keeping children safe and supporting families on the beautiful Isle of Wight.