Providing intensive support to 80 children and young people on the edge of care, and their families, across two cohorts.
96% of the 80 young people we supported remained out of statutory care six months after programme closure.
58% of cases were closed to the local authority and over 90% 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 faced 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 was split into six-month phases, with the first cohort starting in July 2018. The first six months involved 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 was transferred back to the local authority and followed by a ‘lighter touch’ phase for those cases that had not been stepped down or closed. Direct work with families was carried out whilst Innovate CYPS monitored the effectiveness of the intervention. This was gradually phased out to ensure families were not dependent on Innovate CYPS. Meanwhile, Innovate CYPS structured knowledge-transfer took place in the form of workshops to ensure the local authority and partner agencies had the skills and knowledge to maintain the work at the end of the programme.
Family group conferences (FGC) were held every six weeks to give family members the chance to come together. Involved from the beginning of the process, parents and carers were encouraged to take ownership of the meeting and complete an action plan, which all those who attended felt were achievable. This enabled the FGC process to be positive for families. SMART robust planning was a key feature of the work, to ensure each plan was constantly reviewed and adapted to meet the needs of the family.
Parenting workshops and funded activities
Advanced parenting workshops were delivered to give parents the skills to manage their child’s behaviour. Parents were also given attachment training to understand why their child pushes against parental authority and how to manage those situations.
Due to how Innovate CYPS structured the project, there was a devoted pre-approved budget available, so that whatever activity a social worker thought could help a child, was quickly accessed.
This includes funding activities through the youth engagement part of the programme to help children and young people re-engage with their families and the education system. These activities included storyboard work, art therapy, graffiti painting workshops, games and employability skills for older children.
Reengagement with education
As a critical part of the programme, we engaged with schools to co-produce plans designed to reengage children and young people with education. They helped teachers to understand each child’s issues in more details and how they would better support them to reduce truancy. This included working with the local authority to make sure children on the edge of care with SEN (often undiagnosed) were given the support they need to reengage.
Extensive engagement with the families and effective partner agency work has enabled hugely positive outcomes. Where families and communities are empowered to take control and find their own solutions to improve life chances.
Six months after each of the 12 month programmes finished, over half (58%) of cases remained closed to the local authority and over 90% of the young people were either in education or employment compared to just 45% at the beginning of the programme.
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.
Each young person’s life prospects have been greatly improved. The number of young people now attending education is fantastic. 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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