A new project to transform children’s social care by prioritising frontline work with vulnerable families over form-filling and needless bureaucracy has secured government backing worth up to £4.2 million.

The ‘Reclaiming Social Work’ programme – backed by Morning Lane Associates, one of the leading children’s social care services in the UK – will overhaul the entire child protection systems of five councils across the country, looking at ways red tape can be stripped from the system and prioritising work to keep families together.

The scheme, which will benefit Derbyshire, Harrow, Hull, Southwark and Buckinghamshire, is one of the latest projects that have successfully bid for money through the government’s Innovation Programme.

Children and Families Minister, Edward Timpson, said:

“Having grown up with around 80 foster children and worked as a family lawyer in the care system for over a decade, I’ve seen up close and personal the pressures that social workers are under – and also the wonders they can work in the most desperate circumstances. But they must be freed up to do the job they were hired to do – supporting our most vulnerable children and families.”

“Reclaiming Social Work will see councils rethink processes and structures so social workers are able to do the things that really matter, and families placed at the heart of decision making. I’m hugely excited to see what this venture achieves.”

The Programme – backed by funding worth £100 million – aims to kick start the most promising proposals for new ways of working such as supporting young people leaving care and taking their first steps into adulthood or looking at new bespoke services such as FGM prevention.

Steve Goodman, Director, Morning Lane Associates, said:

“Our experience of working with social workers across the country is that the hunger for change is everywhere. The task of creating new cultural and procedural systems that enable social workers to focus entirely on practice is enormous.

“Morning Lane with our five partner authorities relish the opportunity the Government have given us to show that this challenge can be met. We will be inviting applications from bright, passionate social workers to join us in this endeavour.’

The government’s Innovation Programme will focus on two key target areas – fresh ways of working in children’s social work and better support for young people in or on the edge of care. Exciting proposals so far have included:

  • A group of councils who have designed their own new approach to social work practice, based around getting social workers back into intensive, in-depth work with families;
  • Expanding a project which helps women who have had successive children taken into care by interrupting repeat pregnancies and giving them a chance to turn their lives around;
  • A council interested in developing a care pathway approach that provides a detailed assessment of young people’s needs within the first few weeks in care, and provides a consistent team of staff to work with that young person wherever they move through the care system.