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Families, children and young people get the best start in life

Two young people smilingThriving residents outcome: all our families, children and young people are supported to get the best start in life

Edge of Care

Our Edge of Care service is designed to prevent family breakdown, reducing the number of children in care. When the service began, 37 per cent of children coming into care were aged nine to 15 (the target age range of the Edge of Care team).

By the end of 2017-18, we had reduced this to 23 per cent. In 2017-18, the team worked with 216 children and 160 (74 per cent) remained with their families. Following this success, the Edge of Care team is now working with children up to the age of two who have been assessed as being at risk of becoming looked after. Edge of Care is also supported by other initiatives, including Family Group Conferences.

Family Group Conferencing

The Family Group Conferencing (FGC) team works with families to ensure that a child or young person at risk of entering care can remain with their family, if appropriate. At a FGC, relatives and friends of a family whose child may enter care come together to discuss difficulties and plan how they can address them. The team has had conferences and reviews for 242 children in 117 families since the service started in June 2017. The team closed 75 cases by March 2018, with 95 per cent of these children remaining with their families.

Improving relationships

We worked in partnership with the national relationship charity OnePlusOne to develop the Improving Relationships Better Parenting Toolkit. It provides practical information and advice to people working with families on how to support parents in conflict. The toolkit was made available in November 2017 and has been positively received with over 90 people attending training.

Together for Adoption

We began a regional adoption service on 1 September 2017, called Together for Adoption, with four other local authorities: Halton, St Helens, Warrington and Wigan. Combining services will make it easier and faster to find the best family for every child by widening the pool of potential adopters. It takes us an average of 436 days to find the right adoptive family for a child. The northwest average is 515 and the national average is 520.

Services to support all families

The Starting Well service and Early Help and Prevention service both began in January 2018, replacing the Integrated Early Support service. These services work together to ensure co-ordinated support for all families. Families are empowered to make positive change and support their children to thrive.

  • Starting Well - This is an integrated health and wellbeing service for families with children, from birth to 19 (25 with additional needs). Managed by Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and delivered from children’s centres, it has brought together health visiting, school nursing and children’s centre services.
  • Early Help and Prevention - This service works with a range of partners to address unmet needs for children, families and young people. They work with families with complex issues, and those who no longer need social care interventions, to provide help and support to avoid re-referral.

West Cheshire Youth and Community Awards

The Early Help and Prevention service held its inaugural West Cheshire Youth and Community Awards in March 2018. It celebrated the work of 13 to 19-year-olds and the dedicated individuals and groups who support them to grow and flourish. Eighteen awards were presented from 96 excellent nominations.

Family doing science together

Targeted Emotional Health and Wellbeing service

A new three-year Targeted Emotional Health and Wellbeing service for children and young people up to 19 years old (up to 25 years with additional needs) began in November 2017. It aims to increase mental health awareness, emotional health and wellbeing, and resilience, preventing the escalation of emotional and behavioural problems that could develop into more severe mental health conditions.

Young people are referred to the programme by staff already working with families. Last year, 38 young people started the 12-week programme, and latest figures show an 85 per cent improvement in the way young people feel about themselves.

Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid: Youth teaches people how to identify, understand and help a person who might be developing a mental health difficulty. During the 2017-18 academic year, the Psychology service trained 74 school staff and youth workers in the two-day programme, and a further 163 staff from 19 schools in the one-day programme. To date, 152 schools have at least one member of staff trained.

Level of development

The Early Years Foundation Stage Profile Good Level of Development gap between non-free school meal children and free school meal children closed by eight per cent, from 24 per cent to 16 per cent, in 2017. The Early Years team has continued to target early years providers and schools with high numbers of disadvantaged children.

Looking forward


Along with our partners, we will provide two new services dedicated to fostering in 2018:

  • Foster4 - We are working with Cheshire East, Halton and Warrington borough councils in a new collaboration, known as Foster4. The service, starting in April 2018, has a central team to campaign and recruit for all four councils’ fostering services. Foster4 aims to increase the number of local foster carers and placements. It will also support carers to provide more placements for siblings and older children.~

    Foster4 website

  • Fostering Better Outcomes - This new service, beginning in June 2018, will support children and young people who are in, or on the edge of residential care, to access specialist foster care placements. The service will be provided by Core Assets, an experienced provider of fostering and residential care services. The project received social investment funding from Bridges Fund Management via a Social Impact Bond (SIB) and is supported by a £939,000 grant award from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Life Chances Fund.

Troubled Families programme

The Troubled Families programme continues its success. We have worked with over 1,600 families since 2012. In March 2018, we were awarded Earned Autonomy status by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. We received an additional payment of over £600,000to invest in further improvement through to 2020.This funding will help families with multiple and complex needs to address anti-social behaviour, truancy, unemployment, mental health issues and domestic abuse.

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