In Thurrock, we believe in working with children, young people, and families as individuals to gain an understanding of what life is like for them.
Our social work teams make sure that, wherever possible, children and young people in Thurrock have every opportunity to get the best start in life and go on to enjoy happy, fulfilling futures.
Using 'Signs of Safety' as our practice approach, we keep children and their families at the heart of everything we do. Signs of Safety is complimented by:
- systemic thinking
- trauma-informed practice
- contextual safeguarding
Young people are an integral part of our recruitment process. We learn from the views of children and young people, and we are mindful of the language we use in our records.
Working in a small local authority are, all our staff have an opportunity to see the impact of their work and share their views to help shape the service.
We've achieved much as a solidly good service but remain ambitious and aspirational. We want children, young people and their families not only to be safe but to continue flourishing in Thurrock.
Children's social work structure
Thurrock Council's Children's Social Care service is designed to:
- minimise points where children will be allocated a new social worker
- maximise good communication between services
- meet children's needs in a timely way
Each service area is led by a strategic lead who has close working relationships with managers, frontline staff, and business support.
Our service areas are organised to make sure social workers can easily get management support and can expect regular and reflective supervision. This can be both one-to-one and group supervision.
Teams are encouraged to work together, supporting each other and developing ideas. We promote a social work practice that is strength-based, relational and outcome-focused.
All our staff benefit from the strong partnerships we have formed with external and internal parties. This has been achieved in the following ways.
Our 'Think Family' approach helps practitioners to consider the child, the parents, and the wider family as a whole. We work with close networks of family, friends, and professionals to reduce the number of children coming into care and divert families from Court proceedings. We do this by offering intensive assessments and interventions at the earliest point in time.
We organise weekly bite-size training sessions on a variety of social work topics for managers and practitioners. They may be led by managers, practitioners or even by young people. Topic build on our learning from feedback, so sessions contribute both to learning and improvements in practice.
Research in Practice
The Research in Practice partnership provides access to a wide range of online resources, learning opportunities, expertise and training. Through Research in Practice, our managers are actively engaged in training on the Practice Supervisors Development Programme.
Regular practitioner meetings
We organise regular practitioner meetings with our senior management team. This includes the service director, assistant director, and principal social worker.
Thurrock Young Voices
Our Engagement and Participation Officer makes sure that every child and family accessing our intervention can have their say about the service they receive. Their feedback is used for service development and creating better outcomes for children. We work to involve children and young people in everything we do, including reviews of policies, staff interviews and training.
We hear the voices of young people through:
- Children in Care Council (CiCC)
- consultations and feedback
- engagement events and activities
- young voices newsletter, including a young voices blog
- young people co-facilitated training – 'Power of Participation'
- advocacy offered to those in placements or looked-after, aged 5 years-old or older
- 'Mind of my Own' smartphone app
- Young Person Recruitment Panel
When we ask young people what's important, they say:
- "Connect with me!"
- "Don't be late"
- "Involve me!"