We have a very open structure, with clear roles and responsibilities. Our management pride themselves on being visible and approachable at all levels which creates a highly collegiate, open door environment. Importantly, we work within the spirit of the Munro recommendations. This ensures that whatever targets we're working towards, we continue to be child-focused at all times.
We have a Team Manager and (at least) one Deputy Team Manager leading each of our teams. Our Managers are experienced Social Work professionals, who are committed to supporting and developing their colleagues. Each team also has a combination of Senior Practitioners, two levels of Social Workers, Social Work Assistants and dedicated administrative support.
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Intake & Assessment (Watling House, Dunstable)
If a child is in need or at risk of significant harm, our Intake & Assessment team is the access point for statutory intervention. Building and maintaining strong working relationships with health, education, police and voluntary organisations, we deliver short-term interventions that identify needs, risks and possible solutions.
Family Support (Watling House, Dunstable & London Road, Biggleswade)
Our Family Support Services are crucial in providing medium to long-term interventions that identify needs and risks, and deliver Child in Need and Child Protection plans. These teams ensure resources are available and enable families to deliver actions, to keep children and young people safe. Our Family Support teams work in conjunction with our I&A teams, and smooth transitions are crucial to avoid any delays in case management.
Looked After Children (Priory Business Park, Bedford)
This team delivers long-term support to Looked After Children, their families and their primary carers. Always, the aim is to ensure they have access to the same life chances as children who remain within their birth families. This level of support requires close partnerships with the Fostering and Adoption Service, Education, Health and numerous voluntary and private sector organisations. Essentially we all become 'corporate parents' for each child until they return home, are adopted, made subject to another Court Order, or turn 18.
We have a committed Children in Care Council who work closely with the Children's Participation Officer. Primarily this is to ensure that the corporate parents understand and learn - from the children themselves - what it's like to be cared for by Central Bedfordshire. We're constantly looking at ways to ensure these young people have the very best opportunities available.
Specialist staff work with young people who are leaving care and discharge our responsibility to ensure that all young people have the practical,financial and emotional support they need to make the transition into adulthood. Importantly, these young people need exposure to the kind of opportunities that will maximise their life chances. Like all aspects of the service, success depends very much on co-operation and service provision from partner agencies.
When children and young people enter the UK from abroad, we have a duty to ensure that their needs are safeguarded and promoted, just like any other young person and we have a small dedicated group of staff working in this highly sensitive and complex area, with frequent changes in law and practice.
Service provision depends very much on age, so this is a specialist area that's carried out by the team. We work hard to develop links with other local authorities, voluntary agencies and statutory bodies to ensure asylum seekers, refugees and anyone subject to immigration control receives the support they need.
Family Intervention & Support Service (Watling House, Dunstable)
Family Intensive Support staff provide high-level family support in the family home and community to mitigate risk and enable families to meet their children's needs more effectively. It is a service that provides some out of hours cover including weekends and evenings.
The Family & adolescent Support Team provide intensive, 12-week crisis support and interventions to families. Offering a range of support to improve communication, parenting and the resilience of the young people, the primary aim is to prevent family breakdown. We help parents and young people manage issues and problems to avoid the need for Looked After accommodation.
Our Vulnerable Young People's Homelessness Service provides advice to professionals working with young people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. We recruit and oversee a small group of supported lodgings providers that offer accommodation to young people aged 16+. We also manage the mediation service for parents and young people to prevent family difficulties that escalate to young people becoming homeless.
Services to Children with Disabilities (Biggleswade and Dunstable)
We assess and create care plans for disabled children and their families, arranging for short breaks from caring for parents, or leisure opportunities for disabled children and young people. Always, we're promoting the welfare and safeguarding of disabled children within Central Bedfordshire.
Adoption and Fostering
Adoption and Fostering is currently a shared service comprising two teams providing services to Central Bedfordshire Council and Bedford Borough Council. The Adoption team, which is rated as Good by Ofsted, recruits and matches adopters for those children who have a plan for adoption, provides support for children and families subject to an Adoption order, or Special Guardianship Order, and provides counselling and support for adults affected by adoption. The Fostering team, which was judged Outstanding at the last inspection, recruits and assesses foster carers (including family members), supervises and supports approved foster carers, including providing training and development opportunities and finds foster placements for children. The team also ensures private fostering arrangements are notified to the authority and then assesses and visits the children and carers. Our priority is to support and enable foster carers and adopters to meet the needs of children and to provide high quality care.