• Sat. May 25th, 2024

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North East Charity CEO calls for more focus on early intervention as Sir Martin Narey inquiry reports

image001 (16)The CEO of Safe Families for Children UK, Keith Danby, is calling for more emphasis to be placed on early intervention following publication of a comprehensive Government review into children’s residential care.

Sir Martin Narey has made 34 recommendations in his report Residential Care in England, including more cost-effective commissioning of services and better use of the voluntary sector in care home provision.

But, Danby said more emphasis now needed to be placed on “prevention rather than cure” in the care system as a whole to protect children and cut costs.

He said: “It’s to be welcomed that the Government is shining a light on the residential care system. As Sir Martin has reported, there are situations where residential care is the most appropriate option.

“However, we now need to be focusing on the very start of troubles within families if we are to prevent the need for children to have to go into care in the first place.

“Families facing difficulties need help to stay together, to provide safer, happier homes for their children and young people.”

Danby added: “We need to encourage innovative thinking and the involvement of voluntary groups and charities in the delivery of services for troubled families.

“So far, the local authorities we have worked with have seen excellent results and are regarded as pioneers and leaders in this critically important aspect of social policy.”

Safe Families for Children were awarded funding from the DfE Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme to expand the learning and scaling of the North East Pilot. Safe Families is now partnering with 20 local authorities and is currently receiving 100 referrals a month.

The organisation first started in Chicago 11 years ago where it has now helped more than 20,000 families, contributing to a 50 per cent reduction in numbers of children entering the care system.

Danby added: “We’re anticipating a reduction of ‘looked-after’ children of at least 10 per cent in the first year and substantial savings for these local authorities as we reduce the number of children who are taken into the care system.

“Families who were at breaking point have been turned around so children who were at risk of being taken into care now have safe and happy homes. Not only that, we are providing significant cost savings in the areas where we are working.

“Children in care are less likely to do well at school, more likely to be excluded and more likely to end up in prison. If David Cameron is really serious about improving outcomes for youngsters who are at risk of entering the care system, it’s vital that we do all we can to prevent them from having to go into care in the first place.

“It’s a perfect example of the Prime Minister’s big society in action. As Ronald Reagan famously said, ‘we can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone’.”

Safe Families for Children accepts referrals from local authorities responding to difficult family situations. By using local volunteers to work alongside families referred by local authorities Safe Families seeks to provide a community-based solution to a community-based problem.

The charity recruits three types of volunteer to help it deliver services: 1) Host Families look after a child for a couple of days to a couple of weeks, 2) Family Friends befriend and mentor parents through difficult times and 3) Resource Friends supply a wide range of goods and services the family needs. More than 2,500 volunteers have already been trained and work with the charity’s regional hubs. The aim is to recruit 100,000 volunteers.

Parents who are supported by a host family remain the primary carer for their children and are encouraged to maintain their responsibilities, staying as involved as possible.

Those hosting a child make day-to-day decisions in line with parent preferences, and frequent communication and visits are encouraged throughout a stay.

Local authorities are able to access the service free for the first year. After that they are asked to make an annual contribution towards costs. The objective is to reduce the flow of ‘looked-after’ children by at least 10 per cent per year.

By admin