Thursday, April 19, 2007

Children, children, more children!

Today seemed to be all about children. Stockton's "Virtual School" for Looked After Children was first on the agenda. This is an idea that's been growing in the council for almost a year now, that we need an organisational tool to bring all the services together to make sure that children in the care of the council get the best deal we can give them. They're not with their birth parents for all sorts of reasons, mostly round the parents' inability to give them a stable caring upbringing, and the council has the responsibility of being "corporate parents" to them. Now we have one person with an overview of what should be happening, working with schools, social workers, councillors, and everyone else to make sure it does happen. We heard some very honest and moving comments from young people who are in our care system or have just left it about what they would have liked to see in their lives. We had really useful workshops coming up with suggestions about practical matters, and I came away determined that whatever the outcome of the election I'm going to know more about what's happening to these children and work to get better results for them than we've got at present.
After that there was just time to get home and have a meal before going out to Egglescliffe Parish Annual Meeting. This is the biggest thing that sets first tier councils apart from Borough and County councils - the Parish has to have a meeting at which it reports to the electorate and answers questions from them. There was a really good turnout, largely because people wanted to talk about the potential new development at AllensWest, and people asked lots of questions and made lots of comments. What was really good was that 3 women, all mothers of young children in the area, came forward afterwards with ideas for ways to improve the play facilities in the parish. They're very enthusiastic and talked of setting up a "Friends of Amberley Way Play Area". I hope they carry on and have promised to keep in touch and to find out about insurance restrictions and so on. One of them knew that Tesco have sponsored a play area in another town and is going to find out how the people there got that funding.
So high hopes on two fronts, and a very positive day.

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