It is great to have the opportunity to introduce myself to you all through this excellent newsletter.
I have recently joined Luton Children’s Services as the new Service Director for Quality, Improvement and Practice Innovation, and part of my role is to provide strategic leadership for the Flying Start programme and Children’s Centres.
So, a little about me. I’m a qualified social worker, and I’ve been a senior manager in several local authorities over the last 13 years before joining Luton. In my previous role in Lincolnshire I was responsible for Early Help services, Children’s Centres, Youth Centres, and social work teams for one of the four quadrants in a large county.
I firmly believe that Early Intervention and Prevention services are fundamental to a successful and effective response to the challenges faced by families in our area, especially those who are more vulnerable.
Early Intervention/Early Help services are key to how we collectively best support children, young people and their families and empower them to find solutions to the challenges they face, preferably within their own family and community networks. The more effective these services are, the better the outcomes, and consequently the less demand there is on social care provision. The Flying Start Programme and children’s centres are critical to this endeavour.
Ultimately we should be aiming to ensure that families get the right support, at the right time, from the right person. And often that right time is the first point at which they need additional support. Having a wide range of easily accessible services in familiar local locations can be the difference between families getting that early support or not.
There are some challenges ahead for Early Intervention and Prevention services, it would be foolhardy not to be clear about that. In particular, the ending of the Troubled Families grant nationally, and uncertainty about alternative future funding from central government, means that we need to plan ahead and ensure that we can deliver future services in budget should no alternative funding be available. I recognise that this may lead to some uncertainty for staff over the next couple of months, but being relatively new in post I want to make sure that the decisions made leave the service best equipped to continue delivering excellent support to families in Luton.
Whatever changes we need to make to respond to these challenges, I am confident that together we can continue to provide families in Luton with the support that they need, and enable families so that children thrive and achieve.
Over the coming months I will be making time to come and visit all staff in the Flying Start Centres and also engage with all our partner agencies so that we can continue to improve the high quality services that are provided to families through the Flying Start programme. I look forward to meeting you all and working with you to give the children of Luton the best start in life.