Hampshire County Council is a Partner in Practice – click here for more information
Social workers have come under greater pressure as demand increases, limiting their ability to intervene effectively. They are expected to improve outcomes for some of the most vulnerable young people and their families within our community, without the necessary conditions required for them to be able to succeed.
Our innovation had several strands including changes to social work practice, increased capacity for direct work with families, new forms of support for children in need and young people on the edge of care, better support for children at risk of child sexual exploitation and new forms of training and development.
On an operational level this was achieved through a range of system adaptations. Firstly, highly skilled administrators were deployed, which released social workers to focus on direct work with families. At the same time Family Intervention Teams (FIT) including specialist domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health practitioners aimed to improve the quality of direct work with families. Furthermore, a network of volunteers including family support workers, youth mentors and others aimed to provide significant added value to statutory work with vulnerable children and families.
Alongside this, a new multi-agency service helped to identify, protect and reach out to victims or potential victims of child sexual exploitation. Finally, Social Work Surgeries were introduced to support early help services where there was an element of risk or uncertainty about risk to children.
Moving forward, we will look to further develop and mainstream the range of tasks that can be supported by volunteers. Learning from the evaluation of the project will support the development of multi-disciplinary teams as a Partner in Practice.
Institute of Public Care, Oxford Brookes University