Leeds City Council’s ‘Outstanding’ Children and Families Services recently won two prestigious national Social Worker of the Year awards.
The awards recognise and celebrate great social work in England for adults and children. Leeds was awarded the winning title in the ‘Best Social Work Employer’ and ‘Creative and Innovative Social Work Practice’ categories.
Since embarking on an ambitious improvement journey in 2010, Leeds has prioritised workforce stability by ensuring appropriate support for children’s social care staff and investing in the workforce – including establishing a clear social work career pathway, which offers tailored support and development opportunities at every level.
Workforce investment has resulted in significant recruitment and retention benefits for Children and Families Services in Leeds. The city employs far fewer agency staff (0.5%) compared to regional (8%) and national (15.4%) averages. This has achieved savings for Leeds City Council of over £20m since 2011-12, which have been reinvested into vital services for children.
Leeds is also ranked second best in the country for low social work vacancy rates and is among the top ten local authorities for social worker turnover and caseloads.
Leeds’ Futures Service came top in the Creative and Innovative Social Work Practice category. The Futures Service was established in March 2018 to work holistically, therapeutically and intensively with young parents vulnerable to experiencing the repeated trauma of losing children through care proceedings.
The Children and Families Services were also recently shortlisted for two coveted Children and Young People Now Awards. Leeds’ Child Friendly City Centre project was nominated for the partnership working award, while the Service achieved second place in the Early Years category.
Leeds City Council’s Head of Service for Children’s Social Work, Gail Faulkner was also shortlisted in the ‘Championing Social Work Values’ category for her work adopting restorative approaches within practice around domestic abuse.
Councillor Fiona Venner, executive member for children and families, said:
“We want Leeds to be the best city for children and young people to grow up in and there is some absolutely fantastic work going on across our city to help drive that ambition forward. Just being shortlisted for such prestigious national awards really is testament to the dedicated staff who work tirelessly day-in, day-out to support some of our most vulnerable families. We have been on an incredible nine-year improvement journey to get to where we are now and I am delighted that we are not being complacent and are continuing to strive for national excellence. I am so proud of these achievements – they really demonstrate our commitment to making Leeds a Child Friendly City.”
Steve Walker, director of children and families, Leeds City Council said:
“Leeds recognises that the strength of any social work agency is in its people, and have invested in establishing a clear career pathway for staff, supported by appropriate learning and development opportunities at every level. The benefits of this approach can be seen through the success we have had in staff recruitment and retention, our Ofsted judgement, but most importantly through the outcomes being delivered for children and young people in the city.”
Leeds is currently the only Core City judged as Outstanding by Ofsted under the new Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) framework. Leeds is a Department for Education Partner in Practice, offering sector-led improvement support to other local authorities across the country and has attracted significant additional funding as a result of innovation and best practice in Children’s Services.
Notes to editors
Leeds City Council’s Children and Families Directorate has 480 registered social workers. It is the second-largest local authority in the country, with the twelfth largest child population and a birth rate that increased by a quarter in the 2000s.
The Leeds Futures Service works restoratively and therapeutically with care leavers and parents under the age of 25 who have experienced the removal of their first child. Research has shown that these groups are disproportionately represented amongst parents experiencing the removal of a child through care proceedings and that these young people are vulnerable to further proceedings very quickly after the first. This service was originally established through Innovations (DfE) funding, and has been expanded through funding from Leeds CCG. The service has six members of staff with a diverse mix of skills and experience including social work; adult mental health; family support; and community work.
The Social Worker of the Year Awards were established in 2006 to recognise and celebrate the achievements of social workers, promote social work and incentivise individuals and teams in the social work profession to achieve excellence.
There are 16 categories in total across children’s and adult services for individual social workers and social work teams from across England. These include Social Worker of the Year, Newly Qualified Social Worker of the Year, Creative & Innovative Social Work Practice and Lifetime Achievement.
Children and Young People Now is a dedicated magazine for professionals working with children, young people and families. The Children & Young People Now awards aim to recognise and celebrate the innovative and inspiring initiatives taking place all over the UK by professionals who work day-in, day-out, to improve the life chances of children, young people and their families.
The awards are a way to communicate some of the learning and best practice from projects at the forefront of delivering services for children and young people. They also provide an opportunity to raise the profile of the sector to government, political and funding supporters, and the general public.