Double nominations for Hertfordshire County Council for Social Worker of the Year Awards.
Published: 09 Oct 2017
Hertfordshire County Council has been shortlisted in two categories for the Social Worker of the Year awards. Our child protection teams, collectively known as ‘Hertfordshire Family Safeguarding Service’ have been shortlisted as a finalist in the Social Worker of the Year Awards 2017 for Creative & Innovative Social Work Practice as a result of their outstanding work with children and their families. Secondly, Donna Kessler, a social worker in this innovative team has been nominated for the Children’s Social Worker of the Year prize. This award recognises the very best work in children’s social care and someone who consistently goes above and beyond to make a positive difference to the lives of the children and families they support.
This recognition has come about after a radical overhaul of Hertfordshire’s child protection system with a coming together of the County Council, Police and Health and Probation services and other partners working in collaboration to ensure more families are staying together. This ground-breaking project, set up with funding and support from the government’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme is now being funded by this partnership. The project outcomes have shown a significant reduction in expenditure for the child protection service, reduced police domestic abuse call outs by 66%*, A&E visits by 53%* and reduced the number of children on child protection plans by 50%*. The total number of care cases in court has also reduced by 37%*.
Mum of two, Angelina who came to the Family Safeguarding team in September 2016 and received immense support from Donna, her social worker, said: “When I came into contact with the Family Safeguarding team, I was scared they would take my children away. But instead, they listened to me and got other experts involved, a domestic abuse worker and a mental health worker and together, they helped me a lot. They gave me the opportunity to turn my life around. I didn’t think there was light at the end of the tunnel, but with their support, I was able to transform my life and I saw my children improve as a result. We are happy now and I am a thousand times different to the person I was before social services intervened.”
Teresa Heritage, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Recognition from our peers in the social care sector is very important and really encouraging and we are very pleased to be shortlisted. Our children and families are at the heart of everything we do in Hertfordshire. We are working more in partnership with parents, to address their difficult issues which impact on their children’s lives. The feedback from families is that they are finding it much more helpful and less threatening. I am really proud of all our social workers and of a partnership that is being recognised as best practice nationally, we have much still to do but I am confident that we will succeed in improving families’ outcomes.”
Hertfordshire County Council is now working with four other local authorities; Luton Borough Council, Peterborough City Council, Bracknell Forest Council and West Berkshire Council and their local partnerships, to implement the Hertfordshire Family Safeguarding model and to test whether Hertfordshire’s improved outcomes for children, families and social workers can be replicated in their areas.
The Social Worker of the Year Awards provides the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of those who give so much but receive such little recognition. We are one of 81 finalists across 16 categories and the winners from each category will compete against each other to be named the “Overall Social Worker of the Year 2017.” The awards were judged by leading influencers including the Chief Social Workers Isabelle Trowler and Lyn Romeo and Maris Stratulis (England Manager, British Association of Social Workers).