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An innovative young charity is helping local authorities reduce the flow of children going into the care system and saving thousands of pounds.

North Tyneside Council has been working with charity Safe Families for Children since early 2015 and has recently reported a potential reduction in the flow of children into care of up to 16%.

Keith Danby, Chief Executive of Safe Families for Children, said: “North Tyneside Council has been a key partner of ours in the North East and their team have worked with dedication and commitment with us to ensure children and families have appropriate and constructive support. Their willingness to innovate and prioritise vulnerable children and families has resulted in extremely positive outcomes across the region.”

Struggling families are referred to the charity by the local authority when facing challenges such as: isolation, mental or physical health difficulties, difficulty coping, or other issues. Families are then matched with volunteers from the local community who support them in one of three ways: befriending and/or mentoring, overnight hosting of children, and needed resources or DIY help.

The council saw 66 families actively supported by the charity’s volunteers and 158 children benefit from support. Of the supported cases, 44% (29) were Early Help and 56% (37) were Social Care. 16 of these families experienced a de-escalation of need effected by Safe Families support and 23 children avoided becoming “looked-after” as a direct result of the intervention.

The cost avoidance for North Tyneside Council as a result of the early intervention provided by Safe Families is estimated at £112,324.

Cllr Peter Earley, cabinet member for Children, Young People and Learning said: “We are excited to see various benefits evident as a result of Safe Families support, much of which is reinforced by survey feedback and case reviews. Case information evidences significant improvements in family stability and home conditions for the families we have worked with. Whilst much of early help intervention is difficult to measure or place monetary value against, Safe Families is clearly benefitting families who need that early support and preventing situations from escalating further.”

Mr Danby, said: “Our mission is to improve the outcomes for children and families going through a crisis. Crises come in all shapes and sizes, some are sudden and over quickly, others have long-lasting impact. That’s why all our supported families are provided with bespoke packages of support to meet their needs and we work hard to ensure that appropriate exit strategies are in place i.e. that families have established better support networks and greater resilience to avoid requiring further Children’s Services support.”

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