Providing intensive support to 80 children and young people on the edge of care, and their families, across two cohorts.
We are on-target to keep 90% of those 80 children out of care 18 months following the start of the Edge of Care programme at Enfield Council.
In Cohort 1, 23 of 40 cases were closed to the local authority and 100% of the children and young people were in education or employment.
The London Borough of Enfield [LBE] children’s social care team needed a trusted partner to help them find a sustainable and cost-effective way of reducing the number of children on the edge of care from becoming Looked-After Children.
Like many local authorities, the children and young people identified by LBE as being on the edge of care are extremely vulnerable. They face the very real risk of child criminal exploitation, child sexual exploitation, knife crime, county lines, gang infiltration and poor educational attainment.
Out of the 80 children and young people selected by LBE for the Innovate Edge of Care Programme, 45% were not engaging regularly in education, and many had been in and out of statutory care most of their lives.
Having already delivered similar projects, Innovate CYPS was well positioned to implement its multidisciplinary edge of care model at LBE.
The targets were understandably high. After all, the future of vulnerable young people depended on the success of the programme and the legacy it would leave behind.
Knowing the impact the programme would have, we committed to receiving a performance related payment. A payment that was only payable if 90% of the referred children remained out of statutory care for 18 months following the start of the project.
Two 12-month programmes (overlapping by six months) have seen Innovate CYPS provide intensive support to two cohorts of 40 children and their families on the edge of care.
The programme offers an environment where social workers can meet their statutory obligations, whilst engaging with other professionals, services and community groups to empower families to make better life choices.
Bringing together experienced senior statutory social work and non-statutory multidisciplinary professionals, Innovate CYPS provides highly tailored one-to-one support to break the cycle of care, for good.
Each 12-month programme is split into six-month phases, with the first cohort starting in July 2018. The first six months involves Innovate CYPS taking full case holding responsibility for 40 cases with intensive, wrap-around social work-led multidisciplinary support for children and their families.
After the first intensive six months, case responsibility is transferred back to the local authority and followed by a ‘lighter touch’ phase of Innovate CYPS monitoring for the remaining six months for cases that have not been stepped down or closed. Direct work with families continues to be carried out whilst Innovate CYPS monitors the effectiveness of the intervention. This is gradually phased out to ensure families are not dependent on Innovate CYPS. Meanwhile, Innovate CYPS structured knowledge-transfer takes place in the form of workshops to ensure the local authority and partner agencies have the skills and knowledge to maintain the work at the end of the programme.
The multidisciplinary team of social workers, family support professionals, therapeutic parenting practitioner, youth workers and a family group coordinator work intensively. Together, they address the emotional resilience, parental-attachment, behavioural, mental health, social and learning-related needs of each child.
Family group conferences (FGC) are held every six weeks to give family members the chance to come together. Involved from the beginning of the process, parents and carers are encouraged to take ownership of the meeting and complete an action plan, which all those who attend feel is achievable. This enables the FGC process to be positive for families. SMART robust planning is a key feature of this work, to ensure each plan is constantly reviewed and adapted to meet the needs of the family.
Advanced parenting workshops are also delivered to give parents the skills to manage their child’s behaviour for the better by understanding their emotional needs. Parents are also given attachment training to understand why their child pushes against parental authority and how to manage those situations.
Due to how Innovate CYPS structures the project, there is a devoted pre-approved budget available, so that whatever activity a social worker thinks could help a child, can be quickly accessed.
This includes funding activities through the youth engagement part of the programme designed to help children and young people re-engage with their families and the education system. These activities have already included storyboard work, art therapy, graffiti painting workshops, fun and games. For older children, they are given support and taught employability skills.
Reengagement with education
A critical part of the programme, the team engages with schools to co-produce plans designed to reengage children and young people with education. They help teachers support children in their care so they can understand their issues in more detail and how to work with them to reduce truancy. This includes working with the local authority to make sure children on the edge of care with SEN (often undiagnosed) are given the support they need to reengage.
The results of the programme at LBE have been outstanding. Extensive engagement with the families and effective partner agency work is enabling positive outcomes. Where families and communities are empowered to take control and find their own solutions to improve life chances.
At the time of writing the case study, the programme was still ongoing. The results from the first cohort of 40 children, which completed the programme in July 2019, are extremely encouraging. There’s every indication Innovate CYPS is on track to meet the performance-related goal set by LBE.
At the end of cohort 1, all cases had been progressed and concluded, with 20 closed to LBE. The lifetime savings to the local authority are impossible to calculate but given the complex care needs of the children on the programme, they would have likely required a high-cost placement each time they were taken into care.
The life prospects for the children who received the support from the Innovate CYPS team are greatly improved. The number of young people now attending education is a fantastic achievement. At the end of July 2019, 100% of the children and young people from cohort 1 were either in some form of education or in employment. This is compared to just 45% at the start of the programme. This makes them far less at risk of child criminal exploitation, child sexual exploitation, knife crime, county lines and gang infiltration – and that’s an achievement we’re extremely proud of.
The Enfield Edge of Care programme received recognition at the CYPN Awards 2019 by winning The ‘Social Work’ Award, an award for innovative social work practice, recognising the initiative that has made the biggest contribution in transforming life chances and opportunities for vulnerable children and young people.Visit CYPN Awards Website
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