CAMPAIGNS: Public Sector - Ealing gets its care for kids in order

Client: Ealing Social Services Department

Client: Ealing Social Services Department

Campaign: ’Working to be the best’

PR Team: In-house

Timescale: June 1998 - ongoing

Budget: inclusive

In June 1998 services for children in the care of Ealing Social

Services, came under attack from the Department of Health’s Social

Services Inspectorate (SSI). Children were not considered safe in its

care and the department drew criticism from many areas. The SSI pointed

out that the department had a lack of permanent staff, and it had failed

to review childcare cases.

The department was one of the first in the country to be put on ’special

measures’. This meant that Ealing had to work under the close

supervision of the SSI and be seen to rectify its areas of



To come off ’special measures’ as soon as possible by addressing the

issues raised by the SSI. To improve council department management

systems and services provided for children and young people in its care,

as well as changing the organisation’s culture.

Strategy and Plan

The communication strategy needed to target Ealing Social Services

employees, the media and the young people in the department’s care.

It adopted the strap-line ’Working to be the best’ and a new director of

social services, Professor Norman Tutt, was appointed.

Staff at Ealing Social Services were sent newsletters, involved in

council briefings, discussion groups and lunchtime forums. The latter

gave employees the opportunity to speak on a one-to-one basis with the

department’s director and chief executive. Discussions centred on how

staff felt services could be improved. When each target set by the SSI

was reached, celebratory events were held to boost staff confidence.

At each stage of the campaign, the local and national media were

informed of improvements. This helped Ealing to start a recruitment

drive for full-time staff, as it started to be portrayed as a council

department that was making positive changes to its culture.

In September 1998 a survey was conducted by young people in care to

gauge their opinion of Ealing’s youth services.

In the summer of 1999 Ealing Social Services co-ordinated another


Again, the questions were asked and answered by those in care. They were

encouraged to reveal their experiences and what they though of Ealing as

a ’corporate parent’. The survey revealed that children wanted access to

computers, to have somewhere to meet and to be able to talk to and

influence councillors. Therefore Ealing ensured that all council

committees that cover children’s social services included the

involvement of a young people’s representative; introduced measures to

provide computer access; and promised those in care a drop-in


Measurement and Evaluation

In March this year Ealing Social Services was the first council to come

off special measures. It now ensures that all children have care

workers, that the department has a full staff and that all childcare

cases are reviewed. The council has been successful in overhauling its

management and creating a culture that acknowledges achievement.


Communications were at the core of the campaign. The council has managed

to keep up the momentum since coming off special measures.

In mid-May Ealing opened a ’drop-in’ centre for young people leaving

care. It offers a range of services for 15- to 21-year-olds, including

advice on education, housing, health information, careers advice,

further education, employment as well as practical skills, such as

cooking, doing your own washing, changing a plug and opening a bank


The centre was officially opened by health minister John Hutton who also

presented the first of 35 computers to Ealing’s Children in Care. The

drop-in centre also received positive coverage in the local and national


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in