Radical Reformers ep.61: Supporting Children's Social Care with Andrew Christie
Andrew Christie, Chair, Birmingham Childrens Trust
This episode is with Andrew Christie, a children’s services professional who is held in the highest regard across the sector. He has been the Director of Children’s Services across three London councils (Tri-borough), a Department for Education appointed Commissioner supporting failing children’s services and the Chair of the Birmingham Children’s Trust.
There are very few children’s services professionals who bring the level of experience and knowledge that Andrew does - so it was a pleasure to discuss with him some of the current issues the sector is facing.
We talked about what it was like bringing together the children’s services from three different London Boroughs and the challenge of differing populations and needs as well as organisational cultures. But there are also benefits which can be gained such as reaching a critical mass for services such as fostering and how they were able to identify and adopt the best practices from each council across all three.
Andrew and I discussed recent research from Pro Bono Economics (link below) which shows the worrying trend of spending on crisis response going dramatically up while spending on early intervention is dropping through the floor. I ask Andrew what can be done about this within the funding constraint councils are currently subject to?
The Mutual Ventures team are very lucky to be working with Andrew on a DfE programme focused on improving the recruitment and retention of foster carers. This is critical to the proper functioning of the wider social care system and we discuss the “relational” approach to foster carer recruitment and retention and how this more human focus is applicable more broadly across public service reform.