£15 million for project to reduce numbers of children in care

The new programme will be modelled on Family Drug and Alcohol Courts and Family Group Conferencing

Photo: Rido/Fotolia

A new project to keep families together and reduce the number of children in care will be rolled out to 40 council areas through £15 million of government funding, it has been announced.

The Department for Education said the new scheme, called Supporting Families; Investing in Practice, is modelled on Family Drug and Alcohol Courts and Family Group Conferencing and the £15 million will be spread over the next year.

The aim is to reduce the number of children taken into care by helping families work on issues together and tackle the root causes of their problems, including domestic violence, substance misuse and addiction, in order to create greater stability.

The implementation of the programme will be overseen by the children’s social care What Works Centre.

Isabelle Trowler, the chief social worker for children, said that the announcement meant the ambitions of the innovation programme, a multi-million investment programme in plans to improve children’s social care, had become “a reality”.

“Extending the reach of these tested programmes is indicative of the relentless hard work of everyone involved in developing practice to help support children and families.

“It is a very important milestone in our collective journey to giving the best response we can, to children, families and carers, in need of support,” Trowler said.

Michael Sanders, the executive director of the What Works Centre said: “By conducting large scale, robust evaluations of the impacts of these two programmes, we’ll be able to help local authorities make a decisions about what mix of approaches is best for them, at the same time as ensuring that these promising practices are made available to support more families than ever before.”

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6 Responses to £15 million for project to reduce numbers of children in care

  1. Fog May 22, 2019 at 12:07 pm #

    Hardly new. In the authority I worked in we did a matching needs and services audit with Dartington social research unit in 1998 that led to a service specification that did this. Its clearly important – it is a factor in many children’s experiences of family life who end up in care. But it isn’t new news

    I think what is new is that local authority’s have caught up with the idea – lets face it – the public sector in general is really not very creative in terms of its organisational climate – it adapts and refines things well but is not comfortable with genuine innovation.

    If you really want to reduce numbers of children in care then what you need to focus on are other things as well like

    1) Reducing social work caseloads so social workers have time to not only develop care plans properly but implement them well
    2) Ensure that children returning home from care get ongoing support to ensure the return is successful – otherwise they will come back into care

    These messages aren’t new -they have been recognised for a decade or more from independent research but it will take another decade for local authorities to catch up and pretend that what they are doing is something new!

    • Overseas May 22, 2019 at 1:27 pm #

      Agree. I would add that other fundamental services being cut have not helped in implementing good care plans.
      Also it is important that Working together to safeguard children isn’t working, and the sole responsibility lies then once more to the overstretched social worker from local authority.

      Another Idea would be to place experienced social workers in schools and other agencies to ensure that once crisis is resolved, continuous support is provided preventing that relapses happen and further referral to social services, and even further crisis that require children going in care, happen.

  2. Hilton Dawson May 22, 2019 at 12:39 pm #

    £375 k per Authority for less than 30% of authorities to do excellent work that all local authorities might have done 20 years ago
    It will work – just hope it’s sustained

  3. ty May 22, 2019 at 3:03 pm #

    Agree with FOG two points. the difficulty with this is the same as with early intervention initiatives and fdac – a project for a few years and then government funding ceases means they do not carry on if at all in the form they were

  4. June Thoburn May 23, 2019 at 3:08 pm #

    Agree with all of the above. These two approaches have already been evaluated. They are not th sort of defined ‘interventions’ that can be shown to ‘work’ by a randomised control trial, but pevious mixed methods research has shown that when used appropriately in context of different local authorities and service user characteristics they provide important additions to good quality child and family community social work. The recent DCLG select committee report deplored this patchy approach to allocation of what DfE funds is available (the ‘innovations approach’. Tendering process complex and costly in time and money, Major issues re sustainability when the funding dries up, The waste of funding of often rather ill-thought-through but expensive evaluations; costly project management with these funds going to the private sector firms that have no real values investment in child and family services, etc etc etc. (read the evidence to the Sel Committee especially that from ADCS and Raay Jones and the Committee’s final report) And above all the lack of fairness when only a tiny proportion of families in need of child and family services can benefit. When wil, DfE stop wasting money on these vanity projects and the favoured few. And stop asserting that these tiny sums on ‘innovations’ are anything but a drop in the ocean of unmet child and family social services need?

  5. Maria May 31, 2019 at 7:17 pm #

    there is no mention on here about working with BAME families & the culturally appropriate support services they will need! there are increasing numbers of Black & mixed-race children & young people coming into care & local authorities are not meeting their needs! many workers are not culturally competent which is a potential barrier for tengagement & direct work with BAME families!