Medway Children’s Services strengthens internal leadership team

As part of its positive improvement journey Medway Council’s Children’s Services has strengthened its management team with a key promotion.
Assistant Director of Children’s Services, Lee-Anne Farach, takes on the role of Director of People (Children and Adults’) in April 2021 from retiring director Ian Sutherland. Ian is retiring after seven years in the role.

As well as growing and strengthening internal leadership at Medway Council, improvement measures have included significant investment in additional staffing and training with social workers to reduce workloads and improve practice, along with establishing a permanent management team.

Commenting on the promotion, Cllr Josie Iles, Medway Council’s Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “We are delighted that Lee-Anne will be heading up our internal leadership team. We have faced some difficult challenges following the disappointing Ofsted ruling in July 2019 and, under Lee-Anne’s leadership as Assistant Director during the past year, improvements have really accelerated. We were pleased to have had confirmation earlier this year that the wide range of other positive measures that we have put in place have ensured that the council will continue to run its own Children’s Services.”

The raft of improvements were commended by the government-appointed commissioner, Eleanor Brazil, who oversaw improvements at Medway Children’s Services until the end of 2020. She praised the council’s ‘relentless drive on recruitment and retention’ saying that it had made a positive difference to staff confidence and morale and also confirmed that the council has the ‘capacity and capability to deliver the changes needed’ and is no longer at risk of losing its Children’s Services.

Lee-Anne said: “I am very proud to be taking up the role as Director of People (Children and Adults’ Services), which strives to put children at the centre of everything we do. Ensuring the safeguarding of Medway’s youngest residents is something all the staff and I in Children’s Social Care and Early Help take very seriously indeed.

“I am fully committed to work with our frontline staff to help to further influence, shape and develop our improvement journey. Our services are designed to ensure that children, young people and families in Medway feel safe and secure, and all decisions we take are in their best interests and made through collaboration with them and their families.”

Other improvements at Medway Council include the relaunch of its career progression scheme, embedding the Signs of Safety model to help social workers establish and focus on the correct priorities to keep children and young people safe.

Social workers also have much smaller caseloads than before, improving the quality of the team’s direct work with children and a new approach from senior managers has also been adopted to enhance communications.

Lee-Anne continued: “Medway is truly an exciting place to work and offers a range of challenges and experiences to support career development and health and wellbeing so our practitioners can achieve and be the best. We know that good support, training, and development opportunities, along with manageable workloads are what motivates practitioners. There is a huge energy amongst the team and we are lucky to have a committed, and professional team who really care about what they do. The fact that we are a smaller unitary authority than many others gives the team a family feel, through which they can support and help each other and provide the best care to Medway’s children. We are very excited to be expanding the team now and would encourage people to see what Medway has to offer.”

Cllr Josie Iles added: “I am confident that Lee-Anne’s promotion will reinforce our commitment to transforming the service and help us progress our improvement journey so Medway’s children in need of our help and protection receive the service they deserve.”

Medway Council serves the five towns of Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham and Strood as well as the Hoo Peninsula. As a unitary authority, Medway Council provides all council services for the area and aims to provide all residents with value for money and high quality services. First and foremost this includes ensuring all children have the best start in life and that their young people are provided with opportunities to reach their full potential.

Medway Council’s delivery of children’s social care is informed by ensuring children and families can access the right services at the right time to meet their needs. Their services are centred around the Signs of Safety social work practice model.

Medway’s Children’s social worker recruitment communications are managed with a marketing and communications agency called Brightsparks.
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