Putting children at the heart of everything we do

A report to cabinet has set out achievements being made in the city’s children’s services and the council’s commitment to put children and young people at the heart of everything we do.

An ambitious improvement programme is already underway, with more stable leadership now in place for the Children and Families directorate. The cabinet report proposes an approach for ensuring robust services for children and young people can be delivered across all areas.

Cllr Karen McCarthy, cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: “We are making next year, 2023, the Year of Change for Children in Birmingham. This will build on and consolidate the legacy of the Commonwealth Games – it is not just about activities taking place over one year but about developing and embedding child friendly practice across the whole city.

“We know that as a city we have some deep historical strengths and truly outstanding institutions and as the new cabinet member with responsibility for children and young people I will be doing my utmost to ensure the council’s services for children are the best they can be.

“This report, following the recent report from our SEND commissioner, shows there is a long way to go but with a robust improvement plan in place and firm leadership we are on the right course, with green shoots of improvement already showing.

“The city is on the brink of transformation and we must make sure our young people are able to benefit from these huge economic opportunities and the opportunities brought by hosting the Commonwealth Games this year.

“Birmingham Children’s Partnership, chaired by the council’s Director of Children’s Services, is developing a Children and Young People’s Plan. This will include a bold ambition for children and young people, how it will be delivered, encompassing work being delivered through existing strategies like Breaking Down Barriers. We are working to ensure we understand and centre the voice of children and young people much more strongly in all we do as a council and partnership.”

Birmingham Children’s Trust (BCT), responsible for delivering early help and children’s social care on behalf of the council since 2018, is already well advanced on its improvement journey, now formally judged as Requires Improvement after many years as an ‘inadequate’ service. The council will continue to work closely with BCT to ensure it continues its improvement journey, working together as partners to enable Birmingham’s children, young people and their families to thrive. 

Birmingham is currently under a statutory direction for Special Educational Needs and Disability Services following a re-inspection of the local area and the SEND commissioner has recently published his first report. While identifying areas where rapid improvement is needed, the report also confirmed that the service would remain within the city council’s remit.

The investment made so far to address capacity issues that were affecting performance is already having an impact. Signs of improvement are being seen within the SEND service, particularly in relation to Education Health and Care Plan assessments and annual reviews as well as increased use of the Local Offer website by parents and carers.

The further investment and commitment proposed in this report will ensure this improvement activity continues so that Birmingham is a great place for all children and young people to grow up and thrive.

The report will go to cabinet on 7 June.

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