The Welsh government has selected three councils to pilot a scheme to provide integrated support to families where parents have complex needs and children are at potential risk, through multi-agency teams.
The integrated family support team model will be trialled in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff, in a consortium, Newport and Wrexham, with councils partnering health boards in all cases.
The teams, which are unique to Wales, will bring together social workers from children’s and adults’ services, and health professionals, to safeguard the children of parents with complex needs, with the aim of keeping families together before they reach crisis.
Substance misuse focus
They will start by focusing on parents with substance misuse problems, and proceed to tackle mental health needs, learning disabilities and domestic violence, with the aim of keeping families together before they reach a crisis point.
The legislative powers to develop the teams are being secured through the Children and Families Measure (Wales) and the teams will become operational in spring 2010 with the aim of rolling them out across Wales over the next five years.
The three areas will receive up to £600,000 each financial year over the next three years to support the establishment of the new teams.
New social work roles
The model will test new social care workforce roles, such as that of consultant social worker, as well as the development of an integrated family support career route, which will provide an alternative to specialising in children’s or adults’ services.
Deputy minister for social services Gwenda Thomas said: “The development of integrated family support teams will require services to be re-modelled, and we will be learning from the pioneering areas to make real and lasting improvements.”
She added the teams will help identify families with problems earlier and work intensively with families to make the necessary lifestyle changes to keep children at home. They would also seek to identify earlier those parents who cannot manage and where alternative arrangements need to be made.
“The new teams will also be able to work with children and families where children have already been taken into care and with support, look to enabling the child to move back home where it is safe to do so and will better connect children and adult services with a focus on the family.”
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Welsh government to pilot integrated response to families where parents have complex needs
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