Safe Families for Children UK is helping Nottingham City Council support its most vulnerable children and families, seeing a 10% diversion of children away from short term care over the last 12 months.
Nationally, the number of looked after children in the UK has been increasing for the past five years, reaching 69,550 at the end of 2015, an increase of 6% on the 2011 figure. Each of these cases has both social and financial implications, and increases the workload of social workers.
Safe Families for Children has been partnering with Nottingham City Council for a year now and already the results are emerging. Councillor David Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years, said: “Every council in the country faces the same challenge – more children coming into care and reducing budgets to look after them.
“We’ve had a really positive relationship with Safe Families from day one, and it’s become an important part of our early intervention response. We estimate that around 10% of the children we refer to Safe Families would have otherwise ended up spending at least some time in our care. This makes savings, but the financial gains are far outweighed by the improved outcomes for our children and young people.”
Working with 20 local authorities across the UK and 5 within the Midlands region, Safe Families for Children UK provides early intervention, helping address issues before they escalate and children need to be taken into care.
Children’s services across the UK are struggling against the tide. Reductions to local government funding, welfare reforms and increased pressures following high profile child protection issues, are adding to social workers’ caseloads, and authorities are under financial strain.
By providing support to struggling families before their problems have reached a crisis, Safe Families is able to support hundreds of children across the country, helping them to remain at home with their parents.
Nottingham City Council signed up to the Safe Families for Children’s Midlands pilot scheme in 2015, adding to its range of effective children’s services provision. After taking its first referrals in July 2015, Safe Families for Children has already had referrals to support 358 children in the Midlands, 97 children specifically in Nottingham.
Kat Osborn, Programme Director for Safe Families for Children in the Midlands, said: “The consequences of a child entering the care system are profound. Of course, safeguarding is an essential consideration and no vulnerable children must ever be left at risk. But it’s our belief that, with more on the ground, early intervention support, we can support children remaining at home rather than coming into care . This is a better outcome for the children, and frees up time in our children’s services departments, allowing them to focus their efforts where they are most needed.”