Keeping Families Together                                        

It's a move towards a more collaborative way of working where we motivate parents to identify the changes needed within their own families, rather than imposing change upon them.

The family safeguarding model has launched in Bracknell Forest, aiming to reduce the number of children taken into care by motivating and inspiring parents to make the changes needed to keep their family together. 
 

The challenge

Without access to specialist help, children’s social workers alone cannot protect children from the risks they face from parental mental health, domestic abuse and substance misuse.  Children’s social workers don’t have the specialist knowledge or expertise in these areas and therefore need to refer parents onto other agencies where they may not meet eligibility thresholds and may be reluctant to attend appointments.  
 

The solution 

We have created two family safeguarding teams with staff from a range of professions, including adult specialists who provide direct help for families and their children. Both teams are based together in the same location so they can work closely together.  We now focus on working with families using techniques such as motivational interviewing to inspire parents to realise the changes needed and make them happen. 

Partners

The model is supported by a strong partnership between the East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Groups, Thames Valley Police, probation, recovery service and the local mental health trust.  
 

Family Safeguarding Teams are made up of:

Social workers and family workers – working directly with parents and children, they are the case holders.
 
Domestic abuse victim practitioner – working with victims of domestic abuse, we help them to recognise abuse and support them to make changes to protect their children and themselves.
 
Domestic abuse perpetrator practitioner - working with perpetrators of domestic abuse, we help them to recognise the impact of their actions and find ways to stabilise their relationships and keep their children safe.
 
Recovery workers – working with adults who are experiencing difficulties with drugs and/or alcohol, we support them to make positive lifestyle changes and help them to care for their children.
 
Mental health practitioners – working with parents who are experiencing mental health difficulties
 
Clinical Psychologist – working with parents, we carry out psychological and cognitive assessments, as well as looking at different aspects of parenting.
 

Quotes from social workers in Bracknell Forest on the FSM style of working:

‘I’m getting to know parents better, they are opening up more, visits are more focused’
 
‘Even if they did  not seem to respond at the time when I went back they had done so much more than I expected’
 
‘I am having success with the 8 module parenting assessment , mother is completing the direct tools and working well
 
A full evaluation report on the Hertfordshire model has been published evidencing improved outcomes for children and families.