Working with families to keep children out of care proves successful

Warwickshire County Council’s Family Group Conferencing team has undertaken a pilot project with Children who are Looked After aged 0-5 years.

Family Group Conferencing aims to fully engage and involve entire families in making safe plans for a child or children with identified concerns. Two part-time Family Group Conference Co-ordinators were recruited and co-located with Social Care teams in the Nuneaton and Bedworth area. They worked with families where there was a child or children aged 0-5 who were either Looked After or at risk of becoming Looked After.

The project which offers families an opportunity to take the lead in discussions has proved successful in reaching out to affected families.

The project has led to:

  • 33% of children whose families were supported by Family Group Conferencing are considered no longer at risk of entering care.
  • 43% of children’s urgency of risk de-escalated
  • Increased response time to referrals
  • Quicker information-sharing
  • Good quality collaborative working between FGC coordinators and social workers which has allowed creative and positive outcomes for families
  • A saving of £21,680 of care costs to Warwickshire County Council with 100% of the initial investment paid off
  • Potential future saving of £1,201,408 per year for 32 children not entering care

With such positive outcomes to the scheme, plans are being developed to incorporate this project into mainstream services.

Jo Sabin, Operations Manager for Family and Parenting Support said “We are delighted with the results from our pilot project in Warwickshire where the key aims were to reduce the number of children entering care. We hope to integrate this pilot model into the mainstream service and extend this support to other families across Warwickshire.”

Cllr Jeff Morgan, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services said “It is great to see that the Family Group Conferencing project, funded by the Smart Start Programme, has already made such a positive impact on families in the north of the county. The project has also led to significant financial savings proving a great return on investment and sustainability for the future.”

For more information on the Smart Start programme, please visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/smartstart, email smartstart@warwickshire.gov.uk or call 01926 413788