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Today we interview Family Solutions Team based in Telford and Wreking Council. We explore what it is they do and how they support children and families within the community achieve better outcomes.
What is Family Solutions?
Family Solutions is a team that forms part of the Family Support resource area of Children Safeguarding and Family Support in Telford and Wrekin Council.
How long has this service been operational?
The concept and culture change of preventing children becoming accommodated by the local authority if it was safe to do so emerged in 2014 using a proactive approach to utilise other support facilities that enabled families to remain together whilst intensive and targeted appropriate support was delivered. This small initiate demonstrated positive impact for families and financially for the local authority. Further investment was secured on the basis that a new team under a cost improvement plan initiative would continue to drive forward the culture of maintaining children in the care of their parents or family network. The Family Solutions Team began delivering the new service offer in 2017.
What professionals are based within your team?
Social workers, qualified family support staff, Family group conference facilitators and mediators, and a business support officer.
What support do you offer and how does it work?
Our primary focus is to ensure that wherever possible children and young people have the chance to grow up in their family environment by offering a family based intervention that is timely and effective in keeping families together where it is safe and reasonable to do so and helps prevent children and young people entering into the care of the Local Authority. We also provide support to children and families where it has been identified as safe for a child to return home following a period of time of being accommodated by the local authority and provide support to ensure the safe transition from a residential settings to foster families or home if it is considered safe to do so.
Family Solutions work in collaboration with all key stakeholders involved with a child and family including social workers, Education, Health, Charity/voluntary organisations to enable a child to remain or be reunified home if it is considered safe to do so.
Family Solutions Practitioners use creative approaches for reducing dependency on local authority services through direct face to face interventions, advocacy, respite, mediation, Family Group Conference and restorative practice.
Our practice framework is a whole family systemic approach, the voice of the child is always evidenced and included in decision making. The team also utilise signs of safety and the NSPCC reunification tool to support risks management and engaging families. This framework of practice supports the whole family network to have the ability to resolve their own dilemmas/difficulties safely.
What’s the evidence base for effectiveness?
Family Solutions Team work to a cost improvement plan target, to date all targets have been achieved, statistical casework data of preventing children coming into care and reunifying children home demonstrates that cost saving have been made.
Children are also being stepped down from residential provision and supported within foster families successfully. Young people 16-17 are also being supported to live independently.
Most importantly the positive feedback received from children and families about the support and opportunities they have been given to recover from their challenges and improve family life for both adults and children.
Impressively the cost savings targets the team have achieved have been reinvested to enable team growth and service development into supporting early help service areas.
What advice can you give anyone working with children and young people?
To be clear about your role and service intentions, to maintain the belief that every child matters and needs to be heard, also that families are resilient and resourceful when they are well supported. Change is always possible.
Make use of the tools that are available to enable creative thinking and cost effective approaches that includes the family including the wider family and support network.
Families often have their own creative ideas for resolving their own situations that are both cost effective and promote the welfare of the child and above all keeps children safe.
Risk assessments are crucial and that evidenced based approaches are imperative to support decision making so that safe decision making is made.
Partnership working is also key because it provides a forum for sharing ideas and pooling together resources.
Free Direct Resources
A list of free to download children social work resources, assessment handouts and guides for practitioners. It has been created to help support practitioners engage with children and young people accessing services and support.