Former Home Secretary to take over Children's Services in Sandwell

Struggling children’s services in Sandwell is set to be taken over by a government-appointed trust chaired by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith this month.

After receiving back-to-back Ofsted ratings of 'inadequate', Sandwell Council was told last year that the department would be run by an independent trust, despite signs of 'slow improvement'. 

Ms Smith, the ex-MP for Redditch, will chair the board of the new Sandwell Children’s Social Care Trust which aims to make a positive impact on children most in need of protection and care. She said:

“This is a really exciting opportunity to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children and families in Sandwell. When life gets tough for children, they deserve the best care and the best people to support them.

My job is to help build that team by challenging us all to find the best ways to improve and innovate – and by making the trust a great place to work. I am looking forward to working closely with the council and its staff to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements.”

Leader of Sandwell Council, Councillor Steve Eling, said he welcomes Ms Smith’s appointment, adding:

“I look forward to working with her as we launch a fresh approach for children's social care services in Sandwell.

“With the setting up of the trust, we want to build on recent improvements with a board that will focus on providing a clear vision, be innovative and strive to deliver rapid and sustained improvements.

"She has a wealth of experience to help the trust address the challenges we face and, working with all our key partners, improve social care services to children in Sandwell.”

When plans for the trust were announced in October 2016, Councillor Simon Hackett, cabinet member for children's services, said he did not agree that it was the best way forward to improve services.

But since then, the council has been working with Commissioner Malcolm Newsam and the Department for Education to agree detailed proposals about how the move will work. Following the announcement of Ms Smith as the board chairman, Cllr Hackett said:

“I have always said that if services are not good enough for my own children, they’re not good enough for other people’s children. I want every child in Sandwell to achieve their full potential and the new trust can help us do that.

“As chair of the trust, Jacqui can make sure our dedicated staff have the support and resources they need to help every child.

“I want the trust to be a centre of excellence and an employer of choice where staff want to come and work, with everyone focused on improving the lives of vulnerable children.”

Ms Smith will start her role – which is appointed and funded by the Department for Education – later this month.

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