New project launched to stop children going into care in Walsall

By Jordan Reynolds | Walsall | News | Published:

Vulnerable children in Walsall at risk of being taken into care as a result of their parents’ problems with mental health, domestic violence or addiction will benefit from projects designed to tackle these issues early on and keep them safely together at home.

Backed by £84 million of new investment secured in the last budget, children in Walsall will benefit from projects being launched in 15 new areas designed to tackle challenges when they arise at home, boosting family resilience and creating stable homes where children can thrive.

Data shows Walsall Council has a higher number of children in care than the national average, so it will adopt ‘Family Safeguarding’, one of three successful projects created through the Government’s landmark Innovation Programme designed to support families to stay together wherever appropriate, so that fewer children need to be taken away from their birth families.

‘Family Safeguarding’ creates teams consisting of mental health practitioners, domestic abuse and substance abuse workers and adult and children’s social workers to work together to improve child protection, working with whole families so that all of their needs are met.

Evaluation in Herefordshire shows this resulted in a 39 per cent reduction in the number of days children spent in care, for cases allocated to the safeguarding team, a 53 per cent drop in in hospital admissions for adults in that family, and a 66 per cent reduction in contact with the police.

Children and Families Minister Michelle Donelan said: “I want every child to grow up in safe, stable and loving home where they feel supported to take on the challenges life can present. However, in Walsall we have seen increasing numbers of children being taken into care, often as a result of their parents’ mental illness, alcohol or drug addiction, or the trauma of domestic violence.

“We cannot ignore the disruption to children’s lives that these issues cause, and that is why this government is investing in projects that tackle problems head on, backed by evidence that shows it can work. The Family Safeguarding model is already proving to be successful in keeping families safely together, and giving stability for children where it did not exist before.”

Each project, originally developed by Leeds, Hertfordshire and North Yorkshire councils – all rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted for their children’s services – aims to build resilience among more vulnerable families and improve how councils design and run services, supporting social workers to confidently identify where families can stay together in the home safely, without putting children or partners at risk.

Councillor Tim Wilson, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services at Walsall Council said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Walsall Council has been accepted onto this programme because it will make such a positive difference to the life chances of so many children across Walsall.

“The Hertfordshire model shows that, by enabling many more parents to seek help to change abusive behaviours, improve their mental health and reduce alcohol or drugs misuse, children’s exposure to harmful parental behaviours can be drastically reduced.

“As well as fewer children being taken into care, these children will also see improved school attendance which will enable them to learn well and have the best possible start.”

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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