Local authority children's services does something good for local family… Seems like an unlikely news story doesn't it?
It's hard to think of a job more important than child protection. While most children, young people and families thrive, for some a little extra support is vital. To protect the privacy of those we work with, thousands of good news stories go unheard but each and every day, hard-working dedicated professionals in children's services and beyond are making a huge difference in the lives of children and families - working with them to protect them from harm and supporting them to overcome the challenges they face.
Imagine a news story focussing on the young people being supported in flexible and innovative ways that are tailored to meet their needs and fit their preferences, with a wrap-around care package, sometimes in settings that don't fit Ofsted criteria for registration, but which are nevertheless the most appropriate match for that individual - rather than a sensational headline about children ‘abandoned' in unregistered accommodation?
Or one which celebrates the social worker who has been part of a duty team for seven years and helped literally hundreds of families to achieve positive outcomes supporting them to keep their children safe and to stay with the family?
Perhaps a case study of the parents who were offered intensive support after their first child entered the care system, to ensure they were in a much better place to parent their second child and to establish the loving family they longed to be - and are now a real success story?
Or celebrating the work of foster parents, by telling the story of a child in care in their own words: "When I first heard I was going to join the family I thought ‘Oh no, an old married couple who watch Bake Off!' But when I met them they were nicer and younger than I imagined. I now feel part of the family, and when I didn't have any brothers or sisters before, I now have more than enough!!"
Or the inspirational young lady who was not only nominated for a local ‘Young Stars' award for her exceptional work in ensuring the voices of her fellow children in care were heard loud and clear, but ended up on stage with the Leader of the Council announcing and presenting the awards to other young people?
Or one about the Ofsted report recognising that the majority of children and families have a positive experience and that the strong multi-agency partnership working has really paid off!
The idea of good news stories dominating the headlines might be somewhat fanciful, but the stories here are all real and are precisely what helps me keep a perspective on the days when the meetings feel interminable, the media appetite for horror stories seems insatiable and there is someone else baying for my blood.
There may be days when it feels like a thankless task, but a DCS has to be resilient to brush off the trolls and hold on to those good news stories when the opportunity arises, in order to maintain their passion and commitment for making a difference for children, young people and families. Because they're worth it!
Now I'm sure that could make a catchy sound bite for something…
Mike Bowden is DCS in Bath and North East Somerset. This blog first appeared on the ADCS website