Blackburn with Darwen director of children’s services Linda Clegg has told the National Children and Adults Services Conference that her council has saved more than £800,000 as a result of an early intervention project that helps keep families together.
Speaking at Manchester conference, Clegg outlined the work of the adolescent support unit method used by the council, which offers children and young people on the edge of care respite to help keep families together.
The unit offers adolescents and families regular breaks as well as opportunities for young people to partake in activities with the staff, such as the Duke of Edinburgh award.
Since its introduction seven years ago, the number of teenagers entering care in the area has fallen by more than half, she said.
By helping 28 young people stay out of care in 2013/14 the council saved an estimated £1,248,000 on top of long-term savings from not having to provide for children in care. This equates to savings of more than £800,000 once the unit’s running costs are deducted.
Clegg, who presented the model with the council’s head of permanence Karen Barrick, said this can be used for a wide range of children in different circumstances.
“Children who are suffering neglect, maybe children who are at the brink of becoming sexually exploited, children who are having relationship difficulties at home, struggling with school. Issues like that where family situations are becoming very stressful.”
Clegg said that over a year they work with 80 young people, very few of which end up entering care, before explaining the two successful outcomes of this process.
“One is it’s better for most children and adolescents if they can remain with their families, and second obviously it’s more cost effective because care’s an expensive option.”