The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that Walsall is one of just 15 local authorities to be successful in securing a place on its ‘Strengthening Families, Protecting Children Programme’.
Walsall Council will be implementing ‘Family Safeguarding’, a programme of measures developed across Hertfordshire with the support of a DfE innovation grant in 2015.
The programme will enhance the council’s Walsall Right 4 Children transformation programme, which is aimed at ensuring the right children are in the right place with the right support for as long as it’s needed so they are safe from harm, happy and learning well.
Councillor Tim Wilson, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services said:
“I’m absolutely delighted that Walsall Council has been accepted onto this programme because it will make such a positive difference to the life chances of so many children across Walsall.”
The programme, implemented with Walsall Safeguarding Partnership and ‘Walsall Together’ will focus on the whole family, rather than just the child, with the aim of making it as easy as possible for families to access all of the services they need from just one team, rather than having multiple contacts with different specialists.
The so-called ‘Trio of vulnerabilities’ – domestic abuse, mental health and alcohol/drug abuse – are complex issues which can harm the lives of the whole family unit. Using the Family Safeguarding model, Children’s Services in Walsall aim to keep more children safely with their families, rather than being taken into care.
Councillor Wilson added:
“The Hertfordshire model shows that, by enabling many more parents to seek help to change abusive behaviours, improve their mental health and reduce alcohol or drugs misuse, children’s exposure to harmful parental behaviours can be drastically reduced.”
“As well as fewer children being taken into care, these children will also see improved school attendance which will enable them to learn well and have the best possible start.”
The programme will be rolled out over five years, with an expectation that the model is self-sustainable by year three.