I would like to wish you all a very happy New Year after what I hope was a rejuvenating Christmas break. Many of you will have kept up with the tradition of choosing a New Year's resolution whether it be getting back into the gym or taking time to read that book that's been sitting collecting dust. As an Association we will continue to call for a country that works for all children whilst ensuring that children and young people remain at the forefront of all that we do.
Reflecting on 2018 there is much to be proud of - ADCS has published and been involved in some great work, none of which would be possible without the wealth of knowledge and experience from our members. Much of this work is achieved through the hard work of the ADCS policy committees who are the focus of my blog today. (I would encourage any of our members who have not signed up to one of our six committees to do so in time for the first round of the meetings beginning later this month.)
The committees have supported and contributed to a wide range of projects to help influence the national policy agenda. The chance to meet with colleagues from across the country, away from the busy office, to discuss the pressing issues of the day is invaluable and these committee meetings provide just that opportunity. People often remind me of the unique help and support they get from the sharing of best practice with other local authorities or the opportunity to directly engage with various government departments, Ofsted and other stakeholders. The chance to do this seems too good to pass up!
Last year, the Educational Achievement Policy Committee led on our Elective Home Education Survey while the Workforce Development Policy Committee recently contributed to the development of four new children, young people and families apprenticeships. There are of course many other brilliant pieces of work that I haven't mentioned that have been completed across all of the committees and I urge you to take some time to look through the ADCS website at some of these other achievements. It is through having as many members as possible engaging with our committees that we can keep making our voices heard across government and It's also a great way to ensure that the views and experiences of your local authority are captured in our work.
Already, 2019 promises to be a challenging year for children's services. Many of these, such as a lack of funding or long-term planning for the sector, remain the same and uncertainties around the impact of Brexit on children and young people will bring new challenges. The collective voice of ADCS will be hugely important during this time and already the first round of committee meetings will be tackling some of these issues with representatives from the DfE coming to talk to our Educational Achievement and Resources & Sustainability policy committees about SEND funding pressures as well as ISOS coming to speak about their latest research in this area. Committees will also be focusing on dealing with shortages of secure placements for children and young people as well as a new policy position paper on building a workforce that works for all children that is being led by the Workforce Development Policy Committee.
For me, 2019 poses as many opportunities as it does challenges and the ADCS policy committees will continue to represent our members to help improve the lives of the most vulnerable children and young people. So, if you're already an ADCS member, I urge you get involved in a committee and add your expertise to what is sure to be a hugely important year for children's services.
Alison Michalska is DCS in Nottingham city. This blog first appeared on the ADCS website