Thirty-six million pounds is to be awarded to projects across the country that help improve the lives of vulnerable children, the Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families Edward Timpson has announced on Monday 20 March 2017.
The 11 ambitious plans will help children who have been exposed to domestic abuse, support young disabled people living in care, and back care leavers as they get ready to start their adult lives.
The projects are part of the children’s social care innovation programme, which is backed by £200 million of government funding. This programme has supported 59 projects to date, providing evidence of best practice that is helping to improve children’s services across the country.
It is a key part of the government’s work to explore and develop the best possible services for vulnerable children and their families.
Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families Edward Timpson said: Childhood should be a happy and safe time in all our lives. We must do all we can to make sure this is the reality for every child.
By harnessing the passion and expertise of those who care for children, we can provide them with life-changing support. By giving professionals the freedom to develop new and innovative ways of working, these fantastic projects will help make a real difference to children’s lives. I look forward to seeing them deliver great results in the future.
The 11 projects that have been awarded funding are:
• The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and NHS England’s Child House
• Newham’s NewDay project
• Northamptonshire county council’s alternative delivery model
• Shared Lives Plus
• The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird project
• Family Rights Group’s Lifelong Links
• Hertfordshire’s Family Safeguarding model
• Catch22 and Southwark council’s Care Leavers’ Partnership
• Havering council’s project for children in, and leaving, care
• Slough’s Transformation Programme
• Hackney’s project on contextual safeguarding theory
One of the grants will go to Lifelong Links – run by the Family Rights Group. This project brings together as many people as possible who care about a child in a meeting called a family group conference. The aim of this is to help build a lasting support plan with the child, from helping them with their homework to taking them to a regular after-school club. Everyone will be able to offer something slightly different, and evidence suggests that this structured approach results in better placement stability and wellbeing for children in care.
Another pilot, run by Havering council, aims to improve services for young people going into, and leaving, care. Havering plans to bring together teams of social workers, NHS staff, teachers and other professionals, to tackle domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health problems. Staff will learn how to support families and train them on how to prevent situations from escalating into potential safeguarding issues.
Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive of Family Rights Group, said: We are thrilled that the Innovation Programme has funded us to work with 7 local authorities to trial a transformative approach to creating life-long support networks for children and young people in care.
Lifelong Links involves professionals using a variety of innovative ways of searching for and connecting with family members and other adults who care about the child. This network is then convened through a family group conference to make a lasting support plan with, and for, the young person. By starting early in a young person’s care journey, Lifelong Links aims to ensure those social networks can be available for them in care, providing stability to their care experience and support through the transition into independent living and beyond.
Councillor Robert Benham, Cabinet Member for Children and Learning at Havering council, said: This money will have a huge impact on the services we provide for young people who need our support in the borough, and shows great confidence from the government in our ability to deliver.
Through innovation, enhanced resources and working with the young people themselves, we will design a service that truly meets their needs. A large focus will be on keeping young people out of care in the first place, enabling them to stay with their families wherever possible, ensuring that those who do need care get it in a stable way, and those leaving care are given the very best life chances in education and employment.
Today we are also publishing 10 evaluation reports from the Innovation Programme. Findings from these projects are key to the success of the programme, and the department will continue to work closely with each one to make sure we learn lessons from the work carried out. These reports are an important part of the Innovation Programme and are used to inform the work of children’s social care services across the country