Refocusing work with children and young people

This is the latest blog in a series from the All Wales Continuous Improvement Community Awards, which was held last November. How might your organisation look again at its work with children and young people? Tracy Jelfs from Monmouthshire County Council tells us what they did. 

Monmouthshire County Council / Cyngor Sir FynwyMonmouthshire Children’s Services has been experiencing significant changes over the past few years, this resulted in an inefficient service to children and young people and low morale for staff. Since April 2014 a refocus on direct work with children and young people has commenced within the context of good practice.

This began with listening to staff, who are our key resource, to understand what was needed to achieve improvements. A range of tools, training and support for the staff group has been set up using a variety of methods including training sessions and a website to link all Children’s Services information, which enables staff easy access to resources. Staff continue to identify what they need and we then source support and tools to meet the needs as necessary. In addition staff have considered what systems and processes achieve the best outcomes for children and these continue to be developed.

Barriers from the initial work were found not within Children’s Services, but in wider Council services and took some time to resolve. This caused delay and jeopardised the change management process, as staff felt undermined and that they were not being listened to by the authority.

Significant work was undertaken to resolve these issues and refocus staff on what children and young people needed. The service needed to move from functioning as four teams to one service and to prioritise the needs of children and young people, whilst underpinning this with good practice. This resulted in a move from two previous team bases into one base. This has proved to be a significant turning point for the staff group and has enabled direct conversations and building of the teams into a service with a common purpose.

In addition changes have been made to the recruitment process, which have given the service a much clearer view of candidates and ensures we recruit the right staff for the service. Morale continues to improve and staff are now in a position where they are able to consider different ways of working with children and young people and are developing ideas and business cases to further develop and improve their service area.

The service has established a purpose and clear direction which enables families and communities to keep children and young people safe and to reach their full potential. The service is also developing a culture of ownership and high expectations of practice from all staff whatever their role in the service. Further developments are planned as this work progresses. This includes business cases in a number of areas based on evidence and prioritising children and young people’s needs.

The service has created an environment that enables workers to have decision making capabilities as near to the front line as possible, ensuring that they are supported in making those decisions. It also provides a culture that staff views are at the forefront of service development, whilst establishing clear expectations of the staff group in Monmouthshire Children’s Services.

This blog is from the All Wales Continuous Improvement Community Awards, which was held in November 2014.

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