19 September 2018
By Stuart Gallimore, Director of Children’s Services, East Sussex County Council
In East Sussex we’re looking to have meaningful and helpful relationships with children and families. We call it Connected Practice. Other local authorities have chosen to practice systems such as Signs of Safety or the Reclaim Model of child protection casework. For us though, Connected Practice is how practitioners develop transformative relationships with the most vulnerable families in the community. This can be achieved by having a good understanding of trauma, attachment and risk, underpinned by evidence-based approaches.
We believe that families have strengths, networks and skills that they can bring to bear to foster positive change; and this underpins Connected Practice. So as part of developing each child’s plan, practitioners ask the question: What are the strengths that we can harness within this family/ carer and extended family to create change?
In addition to supporting families, East Sussex has continued to invest in wider preventative and community services which help maintain families’ independence, such as early help and community-based support.
We’re delighted that our recent Ofsted inspection of children’s services said: ‘The East Sussex model of “connected practice” has been comprehensively rolled out and is fully embedded, resulting in helpful, enduring and trusting relationships between practitioners, children and their families, sometimes over many years’.
From Director of Children’s Services to frontline workers, it’s vital to prioritise supportive relationships with each other. In this way, connections have a cascading effect; if practitioners feel supported then they can have helpful relationships with the child and family with whom they work. Therefore the model promotes connections throughout the organisation, including through high quality supervision, group supervision, and practice development.
We know that through these supportive relationships more children and young people are supported to stay at home with their families – leading lives that are safe, stable and fulfilling.
Stuart Gallimore is President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS)