Cheshire West and Chester Council collected a national double award for a scrutiny review that has had significant impact on the lives of the borough’s children.
Somewhere Over The Rainbow – a groundbreaking scrutiny of adoption in the borough – collected the night’s major award for overall impact in any of the assessment categories.
And Centre for Public Scrutiny judges at London’s Local Government House also awarded the poignantly titled report their prize for innovation.
Councillors Margaret Parker and Howard Greenwood spent five months of 2011-12 probing every stage of the adoption process following concerns over the numbers of children placed by the authority.
Over the Rainbow made 16 wide-ranging recommendations including the provision of specific emotional, health and well being support for adoptive children – all adopted by Executive.
Gerald Meehan, strategic director of children and young people's services, said: “Several of the recommendations from this report have played a major part in reshaping our adoption service – a service recently recognised as the highest performing adoption service in the North West.”
Cllr Parker said: “We were firm but fair and determined to make a difference. Thanks to a tremendous response from our staff and re-organisations within children’s services, we have come a long way in a very short time.
“The scrutiny is now entering its second phase and there will be no complacency. We must keep on improving to meet the demand from rising numbers of children coming into our care and encouraging even more potential adopters to come forward.”
Cllr Greenwood added: “We were both profoundly affected by the problems we encountered during the review – those of the children needing a safe and loving home and sometimes of the people who were trying to provide it.
“The title for the report was chosen for a very good reason. It might sound a little melodramatic but we do strongly believe that somewhere over the rainbow, there should be a loving family waiting for every child that needs one.”
Councillors Nicole Meardon and Graham Heatley went to London to receive the award.
Cllr Meardon said: “After the ceremony one of the judges confessed that its content was so moving that it had made her cry.
“Whilst we are delighted to receive this double award, the objective is to keep improving the service with the aim of providing a loving home for every one of our children in care.”