Council halves child protection plans after radical service change

09 Jan 2017

Chief social worker hails “incredible outcomes” of Hertfordshire council’s family safeguarding teams and says model could have national impact

The number of children on child protection plans in Hertfordshire has halved thanks to a new family safeguarding model, according to the council.

The chief social worker for children praised the “incredible outcomes” achieved by the project, which has also seen a drop of 67% in the number of repeat police call outs for domestic abuse incidents among the families it works with.

The family safeguarding teams bring children’s social workers together with professionals specialising in working with adults around mental health, drug and alcohol and domestic abuse. The teams work with shared caseloads and provide intensive support to both parents and children.

Hertfordshire introduced the model following a a successful bid for £4.9m in funding from the Department for Educations’ innovation programme. The council said child protection plans had fallen from 1032 to 530 since January 2015, a reduction of 49%.

‘Incredible’

A full evaluation report on the Hertfordshire model is expected in coming weeks. At an event held in December to celebrate the project’s progress, Isabelle Trowler, said the report would evidence “incredible outcomes”.

She praised the “herculean effort” of staff involved and said the impact of their work would “ricochet around” the social care system in England.

“It is so important that we learn from what they have done. The impact this overarching care framework in child protection might have on the national system could be quite profound. I think Hertfordshire might just be our national treasure.”

Richard Roberts, the council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said the new approach had helped more families keep their children at home.

He said: “It has been no small feat executing this ambitious project in a big shire county like ours, but everyone has been so enthusiastic and pulled together to make it happen.

“So we would like to thank our social workers, drug and alcohol workers, mental health workers and all other parts of the family safeguarding teams across the country – you are helping make this possible.”

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