The government has awarded £1.4m to Cheshire East Council and charity Catch22 for a project to find new ways of supporting children who need help from social services.
The money, from the Department for Education’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme, will be used to develop and test innovative approaches to assisting children in need, who require additional support services for their health and well-being.
Demand for children's services has been rising nationally and the resulting pressure on local authorities’ resources means that prevention works best both in terms of services to families and the public purse, so it is vital to bring in new thinking and skills to improve outcomes for vulnerable children.
Catch22 and Cheshire East Council have a successful 11-year relationship and will test a new approach with innovative staffing and a delivery model that combines the expertise of the social work profession with the experience and creativity of a social business.
Launching this summer, a pilot project in Crewe will tackle underlying problems with tailored and intensive early interventions with children and families. By reducing repeat escalations, the scheme will get families more intensive support at an earlier stage and will reduce the need for more complex interventions later on. This in turn will help with reducing demand on specialist social work services.
Four new children in need teams, split into pods and made up of non-social work qualified family practitioners, will work with families. They will be supported by peer mentors and a qualified social work practitioner will supervise each pod.
Tony Crane, Cheshire East Council’s Director of Children Services said: “The Council’s mantra is early intervention. We believe prevention is better than cure. A core focus of our service is ensuring our children and young people are safe and we want to work innovatively with families to secure this aim.
“Partnership work is the core of our strategy to prevent such harmful situations. The right services at the right time is our aim and we are delighted to be working with Catch22 to ensure the most vulnerable in our society receive early help.”
Chris Wright, Chief Executive of Catch22, said: “We are delighted that the DfE has awarded us the opportunity to pilot a new model for delivering services to children in need in Crewe.
“We are keen to build on our experience and to work in partnership with Cheshire East Council.
“We have long held the view that success is determined largely by creating the right kind of environment to deliver services – one where professionals build trusting relationships, help service users themselves identify the value of positive change, and support them to navigate that path.
“I believe we have developed a model with Cheshire East that embodies these principles and which will realise positive outcomes for vulnerable young people.”