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Reflections from Valuing Care report launch event with Norfolk County Council

Zoe Armstrong

Last week, IMPOWER co-hosted an online event with colleagues from Norfolk County Council’s children’s services team to celebrate the launch of our co-produced report: Unlocking potential for children and young people Valuing Care: Focusing on needs, strengths and aspirations.

The event, attended by 35 senior leaders across 27 authorities, was opened by Sara Tough, Executive Director – Children’s Services, Norfolk County Council (NCC) and chaired by Phil Watson, Director of Children’s Social Care, NCC.

Sara opened the event, acknowledging the challenges faced by all: increasing need, budgets are under pressure like never before, and insufficient residential care or home-based foster care.

Attendees from across the sector strongly agreed that:

  • A better understanding of need would improve outcomes for children and young people
  • There are opportunities to work differently with providers to better meet the needs of children and young people
  • A consistent articulation of needs voiced by the child could enable better assessments

Norfolk’s compelling journey to implement and embed Valuing Care within children’s social care was shared by Kate Dexter, Assistant Director – Family Help and High Needs, NCC. She spoke passionately about how the approach has helped them to better understand and meet the needs and strengths of the children and young people in Norfolk, and how it has supported transformation of their services and the culture. She highlighted some amazing impact; Valuing Care has improved matching of children and foster carers and delivered a 14% increase in the utilisation of foster carer and a 30% increase in capacity.

We also heard from Sally Gallop, Team Manager at NCC, who spoke about the impact on practice and the huge culture shift in the teams she manages, moving away from a risk and behaviour model to a needs and strengths model.

Tracey Bowman, Access to Resources Team Manager at NCC, shared how Valuing Care has helped with finding placements for children and young people in the face of nationwide sufficiency issues, and how the tool has supported with matching children well with providers.

Laura Gavrila, Fostering Service Manager at NCC, spoke about her “cathartic moments where carers come forward with creative ideas”, reflections on fostering service transformations and the impact on foster carers and placement sufficiency, and how conversations with carers and providers have changed to ensure the child is at the centre of everything they do. She acknowledged that is hasn’t always been an easy journey, but it has all been worthwhile.

Finally Dominic Luscombe, Delivery Director at IMPOWER, spoke about wider impacts of Valuing Care, and the potential for applying it nationally and regionally. He shared impact from areas that have rolled out Valuing Care: 67 children and young people supported to return to families, move to family homes or live closer to home, with a £9.6m reduction in cost from across two areas.

A number of areas have proven that a systematic focus on children’s needs and strengths has the power to:

  • Transform local practice and commissioning
  • Improve life chances for children
  • Improve the value of care
  • Reduce costs


There is an opportunity for local areas and national policy makers to grasp the opportunity to collaborate on this approach. Valuing Care needs to be part of the national conversation in terms of the Government’s response to the independent review.

If you are interested in finding out more, or joining one of our future shared learning events, please get in touch with IMPOWER or Kate Dexter at Norfolk County Council.

Written by

Zoe Armstrong



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