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Cambridgeshire County Council has been named as a ‘trailblazing authority’ in the national roll out of an innovative approach to children’s social care– backed by a share of an £84m Department for Education (DfE) funding package.

Cambridgeshire will take a leading national role in supporting the Government’s nationwide roll out of Family Safeguarding - an approach that improves outcomes for vulnerable children and young people by involving multi-disciplinary teams in children’s social care, and which builds on work which has been underway in Peterborough for the last two years.

Most children who are facing the greatest risks to their wellbeing are those who live in families where at least one of the adults is struggling with mental or emotional health issues, substance or alcohol difficulties, or where there is domestic abuse.

Under the Family Safeguarding approach, children’s social work teams are expanded to include adult practitioners who are experts at supporting parents to address these issues.

Families in Peterborough have welcomed the approach which has been in place for two years, saying that the support that they have been offered has been much better at helping them to address their challenges and make positive changes – and it has been instrumental in keeping more children living safely with their own families in the city.

The new multi-disciplinary service includes practitioners from:

  • Adult mental health;
  • Substance and alcohol misuse;
  • Domestic abuse workers who work with both perpetrators and victims.

It was initially developed in Hertfordshire, where it has resulted in significantly better outcomes for some of the most vulnerable and at risk children.  While the adult practitioners focus on supporting the adults in the family to change, the child’s social worker is able to focus on their area of expertise: understanding and assessing the risks facing the child, and the extent to which these are or are not reducing as a result of the work with the parents.

Introducing the new practitioners within the teams requires investment and this announcement will support the implementation of the model in the county.

Councillor Simon Bywater, Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee said: “This is incredibly exciting news that will make a real difference to the lives of our most vulnerable children and mean that – when it is in their best interests – that more children can stay safely at home. We know that this approach will work as it has been successfully rolled out in neighbouring Peterborough and will put children’s services in Cambridgeshire at the forefront of innovation and best practice.”

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