Lancashire County Council is developing a new way of working with families so that they can stay together, where it’s safe to do so.
Working with organisations including the police, probation services, health teams and alcohol and drugs recovery organisations, Lancashire County Council has formed a Family Safeguarding Service, which aims to transform how support is given to children and families to help them to succeed.
With the number of children in care increasing, council bosses say this new approach will support families to get the help they need so that their children can remain safely at home.
Social workers will now focus on entire families rather than only children, working alongside psychologists and mental health workers, domestic abuse and recovery practitioners, so parents can access support within one team.
All staff have been trained in a technique called motivational interviewing that boosts parents’ confidence to change behaviours that may cause harm to their children.
Cllr Phillippa Williamson, cabinet member for children, young people, and schools, said: ‘This new approach, working in partnership with many organisations, will offer wrap-around support for families, particularly those facing issues with mental health, domestic abuse and substance misuse.
‘Needs will be met at a much earlier stage, avoiding the need to remove children from their families into care.
‘This ground-breaking approach is proven to be highly successful in improving outcomes for children and families.
‘Having specialist workers and children’s social care experts working together in multi-disciplinary co-located teams on issues should avert families reaching crisis point and the need for children to go into care.
‘We believe that parents are capable of change, and with the right support around them, they can be successful as parents.
‘This way of working has been successful in other areas and I am delighted that we are adopting it here.’
Karen Cassidy, head of Inspire Services Lancashire for Change, Grow, Live, said: ‘I’m positive that this new way of working together will help us all to support the safeguarding of children and families in a more preventative, and effective way.
‘We see the importance of working with the family as a whole, keeping children and parents together where ever it is safe to do so.
‘We know that separation often causes anxiety, adversity and trauma for both children and adults, and in turn this has a negative impact on repeat cycles of addiction, chaos and problematic drug or alcohol use across generations.’
Lancashire is one of a number of local authorities that has successfully bid for £6.3m to adopt the Family Safeguarding Model through the Department for Education’s Strengthening Families Protecting Children programme, 21 of these teams will be working across the whole of Lancashire.
A video that has been created to explain the approach, and more information about the Family Safeguarding Service, is available at: www.lancashire.gov.uk/familysafeguarding