North Yorkshire is a thriving county which is adapting to our changing world. We wanted to share with you our recent ‘journey’ (before and during Covid-19) which has resulted in NYCC being amongst the top performing County Councils in the country. This has been reflected in a number of accolades:
- Ofsted praised NYCC for their focus on stability and learning, judging it ‘outstanding’ in every category of the Local Authority Children Services inspection framework. We became the first local authority to attain top marks under the framework, which focuses on the effectiveness of frontline social work practice.
- Inspectors highlighted a range of efforts on behalf of the council aimed at making the lives of children and young people as settled as possible, which were underpinned by low staff turnover.We consider that stable relationships with workers who know their children and families extremely well is the key to creating and sustaining positive change.
- As a national leader, North Yorkshire’s children’s services have been recognised as an exemplar through the award of Partners in Practice status and the Strength in Relationships Practice Model (see below).This relates to Signs of Safety, Systemic Working in Practice and the Family Finding Model which are highly regarded nationally and demonstrated across the county effectively to assess and manage risk.
Furthermore, in a letter to the council, Ofsted’s national director for social care, Yvette Stanley, described our most recent Ofsted report as “an important milestone not just for North Yorkshire, but for the social care and wider children’s services sector”. She stated that ‘North Yorkshire’s service quality reflected “hard work and tenacity” on the part of council staff and safeguarding partners’, noting that the ‘staff report being well supported and that there is a clear model of practice that is well embedded, allowing practice to flourish’.
This was reiterated in our most recent ‘Social Work Health Check’. The survey highlighted that:
- 97% of our staff would recommend North Yorkshire to be a good place to work;
- 84 % of staff often or mostly feel supported in their daily work.
We are also part of the Yorkshire Urban and Rural Teaching Partnership (working with York, Kirklees and Calderdale local authority and the University of York and Huddersfield). We continue to work collaboratively to deliver inspirational education and training that leads to high quality social work. We consider our approach and investment in an ambitious, comprehensive and effective workforce strategy has delivered a stable, highly skilled permanent workforce. We have no agency staff and retention rates are high, which is fundamentally important to NYCC. We advocate that getting it right through creating the right systems and culture encourages the best staff to want to work for us, which in turn benefits the children and young people and their families who use our services.
We provide a significant investment in training and support for our staff on both their personal and professional development (particularity during this pandemic). Thus, we have a learning and development culture which nurtures practice learning throughout the career of our staff. For instance, our newly qualified social workers receive a high standard of regular support and guidance, we offer various routes to progress to a qualified social worker (such as, the apprenticeship route, Step Up to Social Work and FrontLine) and we provide a high level of training, including systemic practice, family finding and signs of safety.
Furthermore, the Strength in Relationships Practice Model (below), which is highly regarded nationally has been embedded in North Yorkshire for the last nine years and we pride ourselves on our confident workforce who feel ‘safe’ and ‘supported’ – their practice is further enhanced by the mapping of cases which is core to this model. At the heart of our work is the belief that children deserve to receive the outstanding care and support they need to live and reach their full potential, we understand the quality of our practice and practice outcomes and have a clear delivery mechanism for building on strengths and responding to risks and issues to drive through improvements (particularity during this pandemic).
Now, more than ever, during this pandemic our social workers are sharing and adapting existing expertise to address issues of well-being while supporting individuals and families. In NYCC Covid-19 has involved a whole new range of challenges for social workers which has included personal safety and changes in legislation, policies and procedures whilst attempting to safeguard vulnerable children and families, observe social distancing and protect public health.
In North Yorkshire, support for social workers’ wellbeing has been paramount. We quickly developed self-care resources, flexible working, personalised risk assessments, virtual meetings with peers (individual and group reflective supervision) and relevant learning/information sharing.
While technology has helped us to stay in contact with children, young people and families who use our services and our colleagues we are also aware that digital developments cannot replace face to face contact. However, as an organisation we are highlighting our ability to be resilient, responsive, supportive, protective and creative – we are rising to the challenge of supporting our social workers who in turn support the families who use our services.
We will continue to strive to achieve the very best practice and to continually learn by taking accountability and developing new ways of working. This has enabled a culture to be developed in which social workers and managers feel confident, safe and supported to manage risk appropriately.
North Yorkshire is a thriving county which is adapting to a changing world and remains a special place to live and work. With this is mind, we are recruiting across the county for several children’s social care roles and you can find more information here and watch a video to hear from some of our colleagues experiences of working in children’s social care within North Yorkshire.