Always at the forefront of change and leading the way in Local Government, the tri-borough joint Children’s Services have begun a ground-breaking new way of working after being awarded £4.2 million by the Department for Education’s (DfE) Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.
The funding will further improve practitioners work with children and their families, and aims to reduce the number of looked after children by 20% over the next three years, as well as producing a significant reduction in referrals to children’s social care.
Tri-borough (made up of The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster City Council) were awarded the funding, the first of such grants to be given out, to implement a new Focus on Practice project.
As well as work to tackle systems conditions that inhibit practice, and developing a career pathway to enable practitioners to stay in practice, Focus on Practice includes a comprehensive skills development programme which includes accredited modules in systemic practice, motivational interviewing, and parenting theory and skills.
These evidence-based interventions will allow over 600 practitioners, and 200 managers, to adopt a more engaging approach with families, improving the services people receive on the front line.
The skills development programme will be provided to every practitioner and manager within all parts of children’s social care and will be delivered by world-renowned providers including the Institute of Family Therapy and the Anna Freud Centre.
Councillor Danny Chalkley, Westminster City Council cabinet member for children and young people, said: “This investment will make a real difference to people’s lives.
“Social workers already do an incredibly difficult job very well, this will help us improve that work and ensure that children are given the very best advice, guidance and care, so we can help them be successful.”
Councillor Elizabeth Campbell, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Cabinet Member for Families and Education, said: “We are very proud of the great work our social workers carry out, often in extremely difficult circumstances.
“We are delighted to have received this award from the DfE so that we can further equip our social workers with the skills they need to help children and their families.”
For more info please contact Nick Thompson at Westminster City Council’s press office or call 020 7641 2781.
Some of the funding will also be used to recruit an additional 24 transitional social workers, increasing the capacity of the workforce whilst the programme is underway, as well as 24 clinical practitioners (family therapists or other clinically trained staff).
In each borough there will be a Head of Clinical Practice post, who will supervise these clinicians working alongside social workers and other professionals, modelling best practice approaches through direct work with families.
Additionally, posts are being created for the ‘On Track’ programme, a particular area of Focus on Practice which will work proactively with young people at risk of entering the care system as adolescents.
A career pathway is also being developed for practitioners who wish to remain in practice, whilst rising up the hierarchy and developing their expertise.