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1.1.1 Values, Principles and Strategy

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter provides the context for all procedures contained in this manual.

It sets out underlying values and principles for the provision of services to children and families.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in May 2014 as a result of local review; and should be re-read in full.


Contents

  1. Values and Principles
  2. Strategy
  3. Principles in Relation to Practice


1. Values and Principles

What do we want to achieve?

The overriding purpose of our approach to Reclaiming Front Line Practice in Children's Social Care is to;

  • Create a service in which the conditions for outstanding practice are assured and the best outcomes for children and families are achieved.

This means that we:

  • Keep the child/young person at the centre of our practice;
  • Believe that all families have the potential to change;
  • Help more families to care for their children safely at home;
  • Achieve permanence for looked after children without unnecessary delay.

What will this look like?

Children and young people will tell us:

  • They have meaningful relationships with social workers;
  • They feel listened to and know how their wishes and feelings are at the centre of decision making, assessment and planning;
  • Social workers have helped to bring about a change in their circumstances.

Families will tell us:

  • They have received timely help when their needs were first identified;
  • They have a clear understanding of what needs to change in order to keep children safe;
  • They feel listened to;
  • Social workers helped them to make positive, sustained changes by building on the strengths in their family.

Children and young people who are looked after will tell us:

  • They enjoy stable and consistent relationships with care givers and social workers;
  • They are helped to do well in all areas of their lives, including at school;
  • That permanence plans were made for them quickly;
  • That they are helped to maintain contact with their family unless this is not in their best interests.

Practitioners will tell us:

  • That they would be happy to receive our service for their own family;
  • That they feel confident and supported in making autonomous professional decisions.


2. Strategy

We have one primary strategy:

'Help more families care for their children safely at home.'

This is the most important statement in this document. It might seem brief - but it's precise enough to ensure that everyone who works here understands what it is they need to help us achieve.

For a start, the strategy is consistent with our shared values - it talks explicitly about 'help' - helping people is therefore at the forefront of what we do. To do this well we need to understand that the service we deliver is about the management of risk to children and that it is this context in which we will help families change. We will manage risk proactively and collectively as one organisation.

Secondly, the strategy says that it is 'families' that we are helping – this is because children live in families and it is the conditions created by adults in the family that will determine the risk to children. Therefore we must work with the adults to help them change.

Thirdly, we also believe we can do 'more' to help more families care for their children safely at home. This means we are going to do more of the things that make a positive difference to help more children live safely at home - and by implication, less of the things that don't make a difference. This means everybody in every part of the organisation spending more time doing things that make the strategy a reality for more families - as well as making sure that all the systems and processes are helping the same things happen and not just getting in the way or serving to undermine our strategy.

Fourthly, the strategy talks about 'safely'. That's because the main thing that the social care system for children is concerned about is that children are 'safe' and protected from harm wherever possible - and that the capacity of parents and carers is sufficient to ensure this. If it is not sufficient we will try and help to build and strengthen capacity - or provide additional help from outside the family to keep children safe. Only when we cannot achieve this will we consider alternatives.

Being 'safe' is fundamental to children's overall health and well-being and social/emotional development and learning. We see children and young people in the context of their whole family and community - and adults as parents and carers but also as individuals in their own right. A family may have a broad range of needs requiring a number of agencies to work together, but as a social care system we make a particular and 'specialised' contribution to child protection and safeguarding.


3. Principles in Relation to Practice

We are fundamentally committed to working with children and families in such a way that builds relationships and maintains those relationships even in sometimes, very difficult circumstances. We have therefore identified some key 'ways of working' with families that reflect our shared values:

  • We build on the 'story' of the family at each transition point and avoid continuous assessment and 'starting again'. Transition points are reduced, work is streamlined and flows seamlessly through the system;
  • The 'core' offer of help is available across the whole city but tailored to meet individual family need;
  • We recognise our role in reducing professional anxiety and concern about risk to children;
  • We are committed to learning, reviewing and evaluating the way that we work;
  • We work in partnership;
  • We make sure families have access to the right services that work for them;
  • We are committed to eliminating wasteful systems, ensuring that all available resources are focused on children and families.

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