A new approach to keeping children and families safe will be piloted in Peterborough thanks to a successful bid for £2.8million from the Department for Education.
The money will allow Peterborough City Council to create a new Family Safeguarding Service, bringing together staff from a number of agencies who work with children under 13 and their families into one team. Together they will tackle the toxic trio of domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health issues that place children at risk of significant harm.
The aim is to reduce the number of children needing to be subject to Child Protection, and to avoid care proceedings and children coming into care wherever possible.
It follows an initial pilot scheme by Hertfordshire Council Council which has achieved a 40 per cent reduction in child protection numbers and a 6.5 per cent reduction on children coming into care as a result of significant harm - bucking national trends.
Recruitment to support the expansion of the service will now begin. The new service is expected to launch in September 2017.
Councillor Sam Smith, cabinet member for children's services, said: “This is excellent news and will have a significant impact on the future of children’s social care in Peterborough.
"Keeping children safe from harm is our top priority which is why this investment is so important. The new Family Safeguarding Service will allow us to develop child protection and enable more children to be brought up safely in their own families.
“In practical terms, it will allow a social worker to visit a family with known drugs problems along with a colleague from drugs support. The team will also have training on motivational interviewing techniques to help the family start helping themselves.
"It's still early days for the Hertfordshire scheme, but there are promising signs of success and we want to take that a step further and see how it might work in Peterborough to improve the lives of our children and families."
The Department for Education (DfE) introduced the Innovation Programme to act as a catalyst for transforming the child protection system in England.
The council’s bid to the DfE was in partnership with four other local authorities - Hertfordshire County Council, Luton Borough Council, Bracknell Forest Council and West Berkshire Council. The total funding for all councils is more than £11 million.