News from the Services
New Director of Children’s Services
Jo Fisher has been appointed as the new Director of Children’s Services and will take up the role in September. Jo is currently the Operations Director – Services for Young People at Hertfordshire County Council. Jo’s recent experience includes positions within Luton Borough Council where she was the Service Director (prevention and Early Intervention). Jo’s early career was spent in a variety of roles within Action for Children, Tower Hamlets PCT and Newham Social Services.
Councillor Richard Roberts, Leader of the Council said: “We are delighted that Jo Fisher will be our new Director of Children’s Services. Jo brings a wealth of experience to the role, and will continue our clear commitment to supporting children, young people and families across Hertfordshire to ensure they have the very best start in life. Children’s social care services play a key role in protecting the most vulnerable in our communities, and I have no doubt that Jo’s leadership will help us take important steps forward in this crucial work.”
Good to Great......Children's Services is always improving
This year has been tough for everyone and we have all worked hard to adapt and deliver our services during the pandemic. Even though it may still feel difficult for many of us, our data is showing really strong performance across the department, so we can all feel really proud of this.
Hertfordshire had its ‘Annual Conversation with Ofsted on the 16th June and we received some really positive feedback on our performance from them too. Ofsted told us that they have now moved away from conducting interim Covid focussed visits and are back to their usual schedule. This means that Hertfordshire is likely to receive a Focussed Visit next time they visit us, and we are well prepared for this thanks to our commitment to continuous improvement.
Continuous improvement is in our DNA in Hertfordshire Children’s Services and so we will keep going, even though these continue to be challenging times. We are always looking for new ways to improve so we can help children, young people and families when they need us most. Thank you for being part of this.
Take a look at our Good to Great intranet pages to remind yourself of our continuous improvement journey and what we have achieved this year. You can also find the latest Ofsted guidance here, it can be useful to remind yourself of what will happen during an Ofsted inspection and the resources available to help you to prepare.
Thinking and acting Beyond Today – our new approach to managing change
(Senior leaders have been sharing how they are thinking and acting Beyond Today, including Janet Jones, Head of Service – Assessment)
We’ve recently launched Beyond Today - our new approach to how we manage, deliver and talk about our change programmes and related priorities at the council.
To respond to the pace of change that we face as an organisation, we need to make changes to how we operate and how we deliver our services to ensure that Hertfordshire continues to be the county of opportunity for all, now, and for years to come.
Beyond Today brings together our most significant change programmes from across the council and organises them into two main categories:
- Future Services projects are about improving the quality and delivery of our services.
- Future Working projects are about changing the way we work to enable us to move with the times and perform at our best.
You can learn more about the different change programmes within these two areas by visiting the Beyond Today intranet pages.
Beyond Today and Children’s Services
Different change programmes will affect each of us in different ways.
Within Children’s Services, there are currently two Future Services change programmes: SEND Strategy and Children Looked After Placement Strategy.
Future Working projects are likely to affect all our working experiences and approaches in some way. They include programmes such as Future Workforce, which aims to modernise and improve our employment offer, including our pay models and terms and conditions.
Find out more
Across the council, managers have been encouraged to start conversations about how the work of teams and services connects to Beyond Today and these change priorities.
You may also find the following resources useful:
CS Diversity & Inclusion Board Update
The Children’s Services Diversity & Inclusion Board (CS D&I Board) supports Children’s Services (CS) to achieve Diversity & Inclusion within its workforce and the services it provides.
This month we have been focusing on our expectations, attending various meetings to agree a ‘…proactive approach to embrace diversity within teams to support a culture change within Children’s Services’. In the next few months, CS will focus on:
- Proactive recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce
- Proactively creating formal, informal development opportunities, coaching and mentoring for Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority staff, women and those with protected characteristics
- Championing a culture of inclusive conversations and storytelling in teams
There are currently five workstreams focused on implementing HCC’s Workforce Diversity & Inclusion Strategy. You can find out more about priority actions here.
The ‘Be Included’ workstream have been working with young people and families to develop child level outcomes for the new Bee to be included in our Outcomes Framework. These outcomes will be shared as part of the launch of the updated Outcomes Framework later in the year.
HCC recently published the Communities, Service Users and Partnerships Diversity & Inclusion Strategy. The Board are developing an action plan in response to this strategy. To promote diversity and inclusion in all our services we will require input from staff across the department. To get involved please contact Jennifer.Allen@hertfordshire.gov.uk.
HCC have also recently published the Third Party Harassment and Abuse Policy, which aims to address employee harassment and about coming from people outside of the council.
All CS staff are invited to complete our diversity and inclusion staff survey as part of the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) for social care in CS and ACS. Look out for emails with more information.
Make a date to complete diversity and inclusion staff survey on 7 July
Everyone in Children’s Services and Adult Care Services is invited to take a few minutes on Wednesday 7 July to fill in our diversity and inclusion staff survey.
We want to hear your views and experiences of the workplace so that we can create a more inclusive environment for our diverse social care workforce.
Keep an eye out for a diary reminder to complete the survey on Wednesday 7 July. If you are unable to join the day of action, please fill in the survey by the deadline of 5pm on 16 July.
You can complete the survey here.
Jenny Coles, Chair of the HCC Diversity & Inclusion Board, says “Diversity and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. By better understanding more about individual’s experiences we can make sure it is at the heart of everything we do.”
Raj Chibber, Chair of the Children’s Services Diversity & Inclusion Board, says “this survey will help us understand your experiences better and take steps to address any challenges; it is therefore vital that as many as possible take time to complete the survey”
Social care prides itself on promoting equality, inclusion and human rights, but there is still work to be done and room to improve the workplace.
Our data shows that people from a minority ethnic background are more likely to have experienced harassment, bullying or abuse in the workplace or from people who use services, their relatives or members of the public. They also feel there is a lack of equal opportunities and career progression.
We are committed to enable change, celebrate diversity, be advocates for truth and take collective responsibility to make the workplace more inclusive. By listening to the experiences of our staff and analysing data we can understand the challenges and take action to achieve meaningful and sustainable change to become a more inclusive and anti-racist organisation.
This will benefit all staff and the people who use social care and communities. The moral and business cases for diversity and inclusion at work are compelling; equal access to, and opportunity at work is the right thing to do for individuals and society and makes sense for organisational effectiveness, care and safety.
The diversity and inclusion staff survey is part of our work to implement the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) for social care in CS and ACS. The WRES involves collecting and analysing data and personal experiences to help us better understand the reality of working in social care for minority ethnic employees.
The WRES will highlight differences in workplace experiences between white and minority ethnic staff and help us track the impact of the diversity and inclusion work being implemented as part of our CS Diversity & Inclusion Plan.
Further reading on CS D&I and WRES:
Promoting the education of children with a social worker - September 2021
From September 2021 the Role of the Virtual School Head is to be extended to have ‘oversight of the education of all children in need of a social worker’. This will be a strategic role and will not involve working with families or tracking individual children.
The Hertfordshire Virtual School will work with schools, other education providers and with social care leaders and workers to create a culture of collaboration and high aspiration so children with a social worker will make the most benefit from their education and greater progress than they do currently. This will build on Hertfordshire Virtual School’s statutory work which has improved outcomes for Children Looked After and Care Leavers, and build on our offer for Previously Looked After Children.
The Government’s Children in Need review recognised the crucial role that Virtual School Heads have in helping education settings and local authorities work together, and made a commitment to explore the capacity needed to extend their leadership to the cohort of children and young people with a social worker.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected all children and for many of the most vulnerable has increased barriers to education. It is essential that the cohort of children with a social worker are supported to recover from the pandemic.
Who are Children with a Social Worker?
This cohort has been identified as a group of children who face significant barriers to education as a result of experiences of adversity and trauma, most commonly abuse and neglect.
This means that all children who are subject to a Child in Need plan or a Child Protection plan meet this definition. This includes children aged from 0 up to 18 in all education settings.
Three will be launch events in September to coincide with the implementation of this new duty. For more information, please go to the Virtual School website: www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/virtualschool
What’s next for an 18+ year old college leaver with disabilities? Enter Work Solutions
As the summer term comes to an end, many students will be at the end of their college courses and wondering what’s next for them, particularly if they have a learning, physical or sensory disability, including autism.
If the student has expressed an interest to undertake paid employment and has been assessed as having 2 or more support needs as identified under the Care Act (one of these needs can be employment support), then referrals to the Work Solutions programme can be accepted from any Adult Care Services team or the 0-25 team.
Work Solutions now forms part of the services and programmes offered by the Hertfordshire Adult & Family Learning Service.
Take Michael* as an example referral. Michael was referred to the Work Solutions team by the Adult Disability Team just before he was due to leave college. An initial conversation to decide whether our service was suitable and whether Michael met our eligibility criteria took place. A referral form was sent to the Social Worker for completion prior to an assessment being held. Michael was keen to work in retail and already undertook voluntary work in a Charity Shop. The next step was to arrange a work taster in a retail environment which we were able to do in Morrisons. This was very successful, both for Michael to develop his skills and experience, and for Morrisons to see if they would like to employ him on a permanent basis. Michael did so well that he was offered a paid position.
(*Michael is a pseudonym)
Work Solutions can accept referrals from any Adult Care Services (ACS) staff, mainly Adult Disability Services and 0-25 Team, so please do get in contact with us if the prospective client meets the following criteria:
- Aged 18+
- Care Act Eligible
- With any disability, including autism, provided the primary need is NOT a Mental Health issue – in which case they should be referred to HPFT.
Work Solutions will accept referrals from Adult Disability Services (ADS) or 0-25 team where the clients have been assessed as having 2 or more support needs as identified under the Care Act. One of the support needs identified during the Care Act assessment can be employment support.
To find out more about Work Solutions, please visit our website at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/HAFLS
To speak to someone to discuss eligibility, please find contact details below;
Six Hills Way
Tel: 01438 844911
Fax: 01438 844912
Tel: 01442 454464
Fax: 01442 454488
Would you like help to Build Better Opportunities for young Hertfordshire residents, aged 15 to 19?
The Building Better Opportunities (BBO) programme is Hertfordshire’s best kept secret. We aim to tackle the root causes of poverty and unemployment, such as physical or mental health issues, homelessness, addiction and much more.
Funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund, we have two great programmes that offer one-to-one mentorship for those who’d like it.
STRIVE in Hertfordshire focuses on offering support and transition routes into volunteering, training, and employment in Hertfordshire. We provide tailored support that works with the interests and needs or our participants, helping them to move into sustainable employment (or self- employment!), volunteering, training, or education.
Herts Youth Futures supports young people by helping them improve employability and enter training or work. Youth Futures mentors guide participants through the many skills and learning opportunities available through the programme, helping them gain work experience placements, volunteering opportunities, apprenticeships, employment, or self- employment.
Want to know more? Here’s what people are saying about the BBO.
“Being on the BBO has been a life changing experience for me. Through this project, I have a new job that I am passionate about.”
“My BBO journey has helped me to deal with some of my ongoing conditions and difficulties. I have met lots of wonderful people and built new friendships. I’ve learnt to value the little things and live in the moment and take note of that moment. I still have a long way to go as I often have setbacks but I am continuing with my studies so I can make an impact and help others in the future. I enjoy volunteering at the Hub and sharing my learning”.
If you would like more information on the BBO, visit our website at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/BBO
Autumn 2021 phonics screening check announcement at June’s Festival of Education
HAFLS has been monitoring the news surrounding the education of our children following the two lockdown closure of schools
We listened with interest as the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, announced at June’s Festival of Education that, as was the case in 2020, the check will be held in the autumn “so that any pupils who need support with phonics are spotted early”.
As a community learning provider for adults and families across Hertfordshire, we target our courses according to the needs of residents at that time. With concerns raised by both parents and teachers about the gaps in educations that our children have experienced, we’re running two summer holiday short courses in phonics and maths, for families living in Hertfordshire. Suitable for families with children in Early Years (3-5yr olds) and Key Stage 1 (5-7yr olds), these short courses are delivered online by our fantastic family learning teacher.
Parents will take part in a variety of engaging activities with their child that will enable them to understand phonics/maths better as well as helping their child to practice and develop their reading and writing, or maths skills. If your child has found the return to learning phonics or maths difficult or overwhelming, these courses could be a gentle, unpressured opportunity to practice what they find difficult.
To book your free place on these fully-funded community learning courses, please visit our website at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/haflscourses
Fun with Phonics: 3rd and 5th August, 9.30am to 11.30am
Marvellous Maths: 10th and 12th August, 9.30am to 11.30am
The Hertfordshire Bookstart annual report 2020-21 - children and books!
The Bookstart programme in Hertfordshire spreads the joy of reading together to thousands of families. Bookstart is funded by the charity BookTrust and its coordinated in Hertfordshire by the library service. The scheme brings together health visitors, family support centre teams, libraries and early years settings to encourage families to enjoy sharing books and rhymes with babies and young children.
Health visitor partners give out the Bookstart Baby bags to families with a new baby, helping to promote parent/baby bonding and supporting babies' brain and language development.
We gift the Bookstart Treasure packs through nursery classes, early years settings and childminders to encourage reading for pleasure – a key indicator for a child's success in later life.
Family centres use the Bookstart Corner resources to promote the benefits of a quality home learning environment to help pre-school children build their speech, language & pre-reading skills and to become "school ready".
Libraries play a key role by offering engaging early years activities to draw families in, by promoting the positive impact of sharing rhymes and books with young children and by showcasing the wealth of quality picture books available for families to borrow.
The report is sent to BookTrust, to all our Bookstart partners and to County Councillors so they can see the impact of the Bookstart programme for families in Hertfordshire. Please do take a few minutes to read the Bookstart annual report 2020/21 and enjoy lots of pictures of children and books!
SEND STRATEGY PROGRAMME UPDATE
June has been an exciting month for SEND Strategy Programme. We’re seeing the new Hertfordshire SEND Strategy come to life: colourful drafts being finalised and we have dates for engagement events with partners, including parents and carers from September 2022 .
We produced a 3-minute video to help schools complete EHCP Annual Reviews more easily via an online platform. Feedback from schools involved in this pilot is very positive. Have a look at the video if you’re interested in seeing how this will work.
We reminded CS Mangers about Hertfordshire’s Professional Promise at last week’s Manager’s Forum. The Professional Promise is relevant to anyone who works with families with children and young people with SEND, which is likely to be all our CS services, so please do spend a few minutes learning more about it and let us know how your service is fulfilling the Promise, so we can help families feel confident in the services we all work so hard to provide- email us SENDStrategy@hertfordshire.gov.uk
The Local Offer Events Tool is working well too. The webpage was coproduced with families, to help them find local, inclusive and fun activities, courses and virtual sessions because we know this is really important to them. Why not spend a few minutes getting familiar with it and share it with families you work with, after all SEND is everyone’s business!
Our highlight however, was our team picnic… we didn’t have the best summer weather however, seeing each other face to face was sunshine enough! It was also a wonderful opportunity to recognise the work that our two Experts by Experience have helped us achieve in 12 months. We’re pleased to say that as a result of new-found confidence from being in these roles, Chloe is now applying for adult services support worker roles and Georgia is applying for support officer roles. We wish them all the best for their futures.
Remember to drop into our CS Staff SEND Briefing sessions, to find out more about how we’re supporting operational teams to help improve SEND services.
Hertfordshire Children set to have a HAPpy Summer!
The summer holidays are looking brighter for disadvantaged children and young people in Hertfordshire thanks to an exciting partnership which launched at Easter.
From July, Hertfordshire County Council, Herts Sports Partnership and Hertfordshire Community Foundation will once again join forces to deliver healthy food alongside sport and physical activity, under the name ‘HAPpy: Hertfordshire’s Holiday Activity Programme.
The programme is open to children and young people aged 5 to 16 years, with those in receipt of benefits-related free school meals eligible for free. It aims to tackle the triple inequalities of holiday hunger, physical inactivity and social isolation.
Bookings for this have now opened for families and those eligible for free will be able to book using their unique code which they will be sent by their school along with the booking link. Families who have not received this on the 5 July should ask their school for it.
Any services who work with families eligible for FSM and wish to promote this further please get in touch with Pablo.firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Virtual conference held to support careers guidance professionals across Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire County Council Services for Young People, held its 10th annual conference for careers leaders across Hertfordshire on 30 June. For the first time the conference was held virtually, enabling more than 120 delegates to attend.
This year the focus was careers in a changing world, with keynote speaker Professor Tristram Hooley giving an overview of the latest national policy updates, including the impact of the pandemic on the future job market. Tristram went on to also detail the newly revamped CDi Framework which Services for Young People will offer some free consultancy support to schools for in Autumn 2021.
Those who attended virtually ranged from secondary school careers leaders and deputy heads, to recruitment managers from local employers and employment and training advisers. They also had an opportunity to take part in a range of workshops which provided practical help and guidance for providing effective and engaging careers guidance in schools and other settings and dealing with new challenges.
The event is run in partnership with the Careers & Enterprise Company and the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Information about services for schools and colleges
Contacting our Foster Carers Securely
Did you know that Hertfordshire’s Foster Carers’ have a specific email address, provided to them by Hertfordshire County Council. This email address is a secure electronic link between HCC and the Carer.
The format of the email address is email@example.com
Please use the hertsfostering.org email for all official fostering communication between HCC employees and the Carer, the Carer’s personal email address should not be used. Please do still take care in ensuring data protection guidelines are adhered to eg. not using names in the subject of the email for instance.
The Carer’s hertsfostering.org email address can be found on LCS within their demographic details.
If you have any queries regarding the hertsfostering.org email accounts, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the SEND News bulletin.
30 June - SEND News
In this issue:
15 June - SEND News
In this issue:
- Year 5 phase transfer for EHCPs (ages 9 -10)
- Purple Pages (ages 11 - 18)
- Men's health week
Please let us know if you have any problems viewing this e-newsletter or if you have any articles to contribute to the next edition by emailing email@example.com
Families First News
Welcome to the latest edition of Families First News
We hope you enjoy reading View the issue
The latest news
Learning & development
Difference we're making
Local area news
Congratulations & Compliments
Brooke Donovan - You are a star!
Congratulations to Brooke Donovan who wins June's `You are a star' award.
Brooke is a Service Support Manager within Children’s Services and was nominated by Jodi O’Sullivan who said:
"Brooke was seconded for a period of time to the FSCP Team until a new member of staff had been appointed. Whilst supporting the FSCP Team, Brooke still continued to support her colleagues providing information and guidance and continuing to build trusting relationships. With Brooke working with the FSCP Team, it allowed them to continue to provide their outstanding services and team models to various local authorities with accurate, informative presentations which were supported by Brooke.
"Brooke's attention to details was imperative as part of the FSCP Team as were her administrative and organisation skills teamed with her vibrant, fun and honest personality. Brooke was also managing the Covid Response Staff requirements within Children’s Services. She has assisted in recruiting over 40 Children Services workers since September 2020 to assist in the current Covid-19 Pandemic. Extra staff are recruited and allocated to teams where there is a high volume of work the outcome of dealing with Covid -19 brought in. `Her role was to assist with the recruitment process including interviewing potential staff, looking at contracts, the allocation to the specific teams and IT inductions. These are just a few of the tasks Brooke has undertaken."
Citizen Focused – Brooke continued to work within two other roles than her own to ensure that services were provided uninterrupted. The delivery of the FSCP Model was imperative to the local authorities signed up for this piece of work. Brookes coordination, attention to detail, organisation and hard work resulted in the workshops being delivered when scheduled with positive feedback.
Every Penny Counts - As part of the Covid-19 Response Team, Brooke was tasked with recruiting staff to provide teams with large volumes of work with further staff. Budgets regarding recruitment needed to adhere to and Brooke provided the teams with the staff needed, all within the budget given.
Integrity – Brooke is a very honest person and has strong moral principles which she practises when managing her staff. Brooke is empathetic, understanding and supportive and her direct staff have a very strong working relationship with Brooke where she is very highly respected
Getting It Right – Brooke is someone who thinks of others before herself and takes every task given to her with integrity. Brooke ensures that everything she is responsible for is completed correctly. This could be managing staff, organising workshops, management meetings or recruitment of staff. Brooke is also a fantastic mentor and takes her time with new staff in training them for the job with the upmost patience, knowledge and support. Brooke is someone that you can openly speak to with any concerns and she will look for a resolution whilst making you feel comfortable whatever your worries.
Innovation – Brooke is someone who is always looking for her next challenge. She embraces new ways of working and often provides the practical implementation of ideas that result in the improvement of services provided. She will often bring these ideas to management meetings, 1-2-1’s etc and is always looking at ways to improve ways of working to provide an outstanding service every single time.
Well done Brooke
Linda Hendry - You are a star!
Congratulations to Linda Hendry who is a Senior Support Officer in the Stevenage & North Herts, SfYP Support Team. Linda was nominated by Judith Sutton who said:
"Linda deserves to be recognised in particular over the last year. She has shown great determination throughout the pandemic to maintain high standards. She has been very flexible in her approach and has gone above and beyond to support the delivery of our services. Always willing to work in different ways, and to support her colleagues in all areas of our delivery. Generally Linda is office based but at Easter this year when we delivered the Happy Easter activities programme she was delivering lunches across the area, and helping out wherever she could. Our team always know they can approach Linda for help and support."
Citizen focused: Linda carries out front of house duties in our Access Points, is always problem solving when issues arise.
Every penny counts: Linda is very persistent in always finding the price for any goods we need to purchase, and always checks if any purchases are absolutely necessary.
Integrity: Linda is always keen to listen to other team member’s opinions and maintains high standards both with colleagues and external partners. Team members always know they can go to her for advice and help. If she doesn’t know the answer, she will find someone who does.
Getting it right: Linda always tries really hard to get things right, and she has a very positive attitude
Innovation: Linda is open minded, likes to listen to others and work collaboratively.
Well done Linda.