New director appointed to lead Norfolk’s troubled children’s services department

Michael Rosen, the new executive director of children's services at Norfolk County Council.

Michael Rosen, the new executive director of children's services at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Submitted

A new head has been appointed to lead Norfolk's troubled children's services department.

Michael Rosen, who has been at the County Council since October 2013 when he joined as interim assistant director for early help, will replace interim director Shelia Lock.

He has played a role in turning around performance in the department, developing a new early help service that has contributed to a reduction in the number of families in crisis in the county.

James Joyce, chairman of the children's services committee at Norfolk County Council, said: 'Since joining Norfolk, Michael has overseen the development of our early help services which have been key to improving the support we provide to children and their families.

'That work has been vital in reducing the numbers of families in crisis and helping to ensure that Norfolk's children have a better start in life. Michael's knowledge and commitment to Norfolk stood out in the interview process and I am confident that he can continue the improvements that have already been made in the department.

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'I would also like to give credit to Sheila Lock, who has done a tremendous job in leading the transformation of Children's Services in the interim.'

Before joining Norfolk, Mr Rosen worked at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, where he was Interim Head of Education and Childcare.

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He also has experience in both social care and education – having worked to support school improvement and develop early intervention services in Southwark.

A married father-of-four, outside of work he is a keen guitarist, cyclist and gardener.

Mr Rosen said: 'My priority is to reduce inequalities for children and families because I want every child in Norfolk to have a good education, to live in families where they feel safe and loved and to be able to achieve their dreams.

'I'm really excited about the progress that has been made in the county to date and I look forward to the opportunity to build on that and ensure Norfolk's children have the very best chances in life.

'We have a great team of permanent assistant directors in place and talented staff working across Children's Services. That, coupled with the commitment of members, means we can continue to make progress in creating an outstanding department.'

Norfolk County Council's children's services department was criticised by watchdogs in 2013. Under pressure from MPs, department director Lisa Christensen resigned and interim director Sheila Lock was appointed last year.

Experienced troubleshooter Mark Gurrey has also been drafted in to help oversee the council's attempts to turn the department around.

In March, children's minister Edward Timpson wrote to the council following a Department for Education review into progress in children's social care services in the county.

In his letter he said the findings of the review are 'encouraging,' with officials 'pleased by the clear signs of progress in a range of areas'.

The council sought to find a permanent director to lead children's services last year, but said it did not appoint to the role because it wanted to ensure that it recruited the right candidate.

Mr Rosen's appointment has been made with the help and support of county councillors, a panel of young people who have been in care, students, headteachers and representatives of partner agencies.

Sheila Lock will remain at the county council for a few more months to support Mr Rosen's induction to the role and manage the transition and hand-over process.

Wendy Thomson, managing director of Norfolk County Council, said: 'We have been determined to find the right candidate to lead children's services because this is a crucial, statutory appointment for the council.

'Sheila has done a marvellous job in overseeing improvements in the department and we have been seeking the right person to take over the mantle.

'Michael was appointed from an excellent short-list and brings experience from roles across the UK, covering both social work and education.

'As part of the strong team of interims that have led the department, he will bring continuity and be able to build on the strong work that has already taken place to improve children's services.

'We are grateful that Sheila has remained in post whilst we have searched for the very best replacement and are pleased that she has agreed to remain to support Michael's transition.'

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