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Stable base in place to build improvements for children’s services

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The appointment of a new permanent management team gives Dudley Council a stable base to build on its journey to improve children’s services, bosses said today.

The children’s services department developed a plan to review and radically overhaul the way services are delivered across Dudley borough prior to a visit from government watchdogs Ofsted in October last year.

A desire to bring in more permanent staff and make better use of ICT were two of the key improvements identified.

Since then Catherine Driscoll has been appointed as the new permanent director of children’s services.

Sarah Johnson, from the government’s Department for Education (DfE), is working with the service as improvement advisor. She will be the new independent chair in a radical overhaul of the board overseeing the progress of the improvement plan.

The council has also invested in ground-breaking new information technology to radically improve the authority’s work in delivering social care for vulnerable children. The Successor IT programme is now live after five years of hard work behind the scenes to bring it to fruition.

And this week, full council ratified a budget which will see £5 million extra spent on children’s services in 2021/22, and £12 million across the next three years.

Councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member for children’s services, said:

We are fully committed to bringing about changes to improve the lives and prospects of children and young people in our borough. This is, and will remain, the focus of everything we do.
With the recent appointments of strong senior staff we now have a stable base with which to build from, and that stability will drive us forward as we continue to do all we can to be better.
In addition, the implementation of the Successor IT system is one of the biggest and most significant changes to Dudley social care services in a decade. It will help us do a better job in looking after the most vulnerable children in our care.
This is just the early steps of a long journey, of course. But the work we have already done proves two things – firstly, that we do care and that we know we need to do better. Secondly, it proves our determination to achieve it, to become better, to ensure each and every child and young person in the borough has the best possible start in life.

The council has regular monitoring visits from Ofsted since its children’s services section was rated inadequate back in 2016. Since then inspectors have carried out numerous visits and praised areas of progress and improvement and highlighted areas for further improvement.

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