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Back to life, back to reality

It’s great to have the responsibility for the first blog post of 2017. It gives me the perfect opportunity to wish you all a very Happy New Year! I hope that you managed to re-charge and get some ‘down time’ during the holidays. I’d also like to thank everyone, the social workers, doctors, nurses, police officers and foster carers, to name but a few, who were keeping people safe over the festive period and caring for others. The work that you do is vital and valued.

For those of you returning after the Christmas and New Year break you’ll know that the first week back is notoriously tough. After indulging in food and drink, many late nights and spending time with our loved ones getting ‘back to life, back to reality’ (to borrow a line from Soul II Soul!) can be hard.

Many of you will have spent time over the holidays reflecting on the year gone by on the lessons learned and the achievements made. I was pleased to see this year’s New Year Honours list recognise the achievements of people who are dedicated to improving outcomes for children and young people including some of our own members and others in the sector.

I spent much of my time during the Christmas period reflecting on the array of changes that took place in 2016 (what an eventful year it’s been) but also looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. In children’s services some of the challenges we face are new but our toughest challenges remain the same. Funding pressures coupled with a year-on-year rise in demand makes providing services for the most vulnerable immensely difficult. How do we make sure that our services continue to meet the needs of children, young people and families in our local areas in such challenging times? In my view we can do this through an increased focus on early intervention and preventative services that tackle the root of the issues children and young people face before they require more serious and costly interventions. We live in a world that is too binary, academies or state schools, in care or in family, central versus local. Childrens’ issues today aren’t black and white so for this reason our approach to them shouldn’t be either. These binary positions need to give way to a much greater collaboration for the common good and strong partnerships that work with and for families and their children.

Whenever I speak to our partners in local and central government, in the voluntary and charity sector and others our common goal is, and will always be, a desire to get things right for children, young people and their families. So I’d like to leave you with a hope for 2017; a hope that this year brings with it more great collaboration and innovation, more partnership working and more teamwork. Whatever challenges and opportunities lie ahead of us I look forward to working together with government and others in the sector to improve the lives of children, young people and their families wherever they may live.

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