Hertfordshire Family Safeguarding wins top Guardian award

Words Sarah Ward

Congratulations to Guardian Public Service Awards 2017 overall winner Hertfordshire County Council for their Family Safeguarding model, funded by the DfE’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.

Hertfordshire County Council’s new approach to family safeguarding is changing the way looked after children and families are supported by safeguarding teams, and is leading to significant cost savings. Following the independent evaluation carried out by CASCADE: Children’s Social Research and Development Centre, University of Cardiff, estimated cost savings to children’s services from reduced care and child protection allocations in the first year alone were £2.6m. Since then, more investments have been made by the Innovation Programme so that the model will be scaled to an additional four adopter sites.

The whole system reform aims to better address the needs and risks facing parents and children in order to increase the safety of children within the birth family. At the core of the intervention model are co-located, multi-disciplinary Family Safeguarding Teams, comprising children’s social workers and adult workers with expertise in domestic abuse, parental substance misuse and adult mental health.

“Families have got a better chance. Having the adult workers’ support when it’s needed for the families themselves; it helps us understand families better, it’s the informal catch ups over coffee that really make a difference. The way we are working now it makes it easier for the families to engage and increase their chances of staying together ”Social Worker cited in the independent evaluation report

Impact

There are multiple benefits of a Family Safeguarding Hertfordshire approach (including fewer A&E admissions and police incidents), however, the most relevant outcomes are:

  • Children and young people spend fewer days as looked after children;
  • Fewer new cases are allocated as Child in Need (CIN);
  • Fewer cases are allocated a child protection (CP) plan; and
  • Improvement in family and child wellbeing.

Evidence from the evaluation is that the intervention reduced Child in Need cases by 9%, child protection plan cases by 29% and days spent in care by 39%. 

“The social worker, the mental health worker and domestic violence worker – all came together. They made their plans and they’ve worked for me”Service User cited in the independent evaluation report

Innovation Unit is proud to be a member of Spring Consortium alongside our partners Deloitte and Mutual Ventures. Spring Consortium works with project teams and with the Department for Education through every stage of the Innovation Programme, including designing and running the application process; providing project-specific coaching on innovation, implementation and leadership; and facilitating learning across the Programme to understand how innovation can embed, flourish and scale across the sector. For more information see www.springconsortium.com

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