Families, children and young people get the best start in life
Thriving residents outcome: all our families, children and young people are supported to get the best start in life
Ofsted rated the Council’s Children’s Services as good in all areas following a two-week inspection in March 2019, reflecting the strong practice across the service. The report highlighted our stable and resilient workforce, strong culture of learning and skilled and experienced staff.
Starting Well service and Early Help and Prevention service
The Starting Well service and Early Help and Prevention service launched in early 2018, replacing the Integrated Early Support service. Children’s centre services moved under the management of Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. The Starting Well service is delivered from the centres and supports the health and wellbeing of children aged up to 19, or 25 if they have special educational needs and disabilities, and their families. The Early Help and Prevention service works with partners to address unmet needs for children, families and young people. They work with families that no longer need help from social care and provide support to avoid re-referral. The two services work together to provide co-ordinated help for families.
Working with families
Funding was received from the Department for Education to introduce a consistent approach to working with families and we started training our workforce in the new ways of working. Families only need to share their story once and the people working with them will talk to each other and solve problems together. Training will continue until March 2020.
Helping Syrian families
The Council offered safety and shelter to 16 families who fled the ongoing civil war in Syria. The Syrian families were given accommodation, furniture, English lessons and support to settle in their community. Family Intervention Workers from our Early Help and Prevention service are supporting the families to adjust to their new lives while homes were provided by local housing associations and the Council. Refugees are entitled to access local services and Council staff are working with the voluntary, community and faith sectors to access further support for them. The programme ensures that the borough can play its part in helping the Government meet its commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK, funded by the UK's oversees aid budget.
Troubled Families programme
Additional funding of £655,000 was secured in March 2018 to develop our Troubled Families programme. Since its start, funding has helped 1,331 families with multiple problems, including anti-social behaviour, truancy, unemployment, mental health issues and domestic abuse. The new funding is being used to involve extra partners with families earlier to offer more comprehensive support and to develop a way for partners to safely access computerised case management systems. Funding will also help different partners at the Winsford Integrated Public Services Hub, at Wyvern House, to have a shared understanding of each other’s business. The extra money will continue to support the transformation of services until 2020.
Team Around the Family
Our Schools and Partnership Team Around the Family (TAF) was set up in May 2018. Professionals work together to identify family strengths, what extra support is needed and who is best to help. The TAF team helps schools to lead assessments to support families, which can be through training, workshops, delivering peer group supervision, managing relationships between agencies, offering direct advice and support and bringing agencies together to share good practice. The number of school-led TAF assessments has increased by almost 30 per cent during 2018/19, meaning more families are getting the help they need quickly.
Edge of Care team
The Edge of Care team helps to prevent children entering care. In 2018 the service won the Best Innovation or Demand Management category at the Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE) Awards. The team provides each family with a service that addresses their individual situation and builds on their strengths. Since the service began in 2015 the team has worked with more than 500 children, with 70 per cent of those helped remaining safely in the care of their parents. Originally the team worked with children aged from nine to 15, successfully reducing the number of care joiners in this age range from 60 per cent to 30 per cent by April 2019. Since April 2018 the team has also been working with children aged up to two years old, with the number of children in this age range entering care down by 57 per cent compared to the previous year.
Since April 2018 we have been working with Cheshire East, Warrington and Halton councils, in a voluntary collaboration, called Foster4, to increase the number of local foster carers for children in care. In its first year Foster4 has had more than 1,120 enquiries and 46 households have been approved to become foster carers, a 40 per cent increase on the previous year. In west Cheshire there have been 330 enquiries and 16 households have been approved, a 20 per cent increase on 2017/18.