Strengths-based social care for children, young people and their families

19 September 2018

A new highlights report from the Social Care Institute for Excellence

‘People need to be seen as more than just their care needs – they need to be experts and in charge of their own lives’.

SCIE trustee Alex Fox

Social care services are undergoing a rapid adoption of strengths-based (sometimes called asset-based) thinking and practice. In children and families’ social care, a strengths-based approach looks at the strengths, or assets, as well as the needs and challenges of children, young people and families. To deliver improved children’s social care, there is a growing realisation that it’s good to focus on people’s strengths, and not just their difficulties.

A SCIE new report, written jointly with Leeds City Council and Shared Lives Plus, describes how strength-based approaches work in children and family settings; and it also looks at how effective they currently are. There is a growing interest in, and adoption of, strength-based approaches for children and families. A key feature of whether recent innovations have been successful is whether a clear, clear strengths-based practice framework is being used.

Alex Fox, OBE, Chief Executive, Shared Lives Plus and SCIE trustee says:

A strengths-based approach to care, support and inclusion says: 'Let’s look first at what people can do with their skills and their resources and what can the people around them do in their relationships and their communities'. People need to be seen as more than just their care needs – they need to be experts and in charge of their own lives.

What is a strengths-based approach?

A strengths-based approach looks at families’ strengths as well as any challenges they may have. It supports them to understand for themselves how they can use their strengths to help overcome those challenges. Central to this is co-production - people providing care working in equal partnership with those who need it, to design and deliver services.

Policy background

In ‘Seven features of practice and seven outcomes’, the Department for Education looked at the seven features of using a strength-based framework. It was based on findings drawn from the evaluation of the first round of the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme. The report says that all of the most successful Innovation Programme projects used strengths-based practice frameworks. In adult services, the Care Act in 2014 stressed that strength-based approaches are key principles in relation to assessments and interventions.

About the report

The report is based on research conducted during the spring of 2018 by SCIE, a seminar led by SCIE, Leeds City Council and Shared Lives Plus, and a seminar on strengths-based social care for children and adults in Leeds during January.

Blogs and video

SCIE is also publishing blogs and a video today, in conjunction with the report, highlighting good examples of strengths-based social care for children, young people and their families; the blogs features practitioners in seven locations from Walsall to Australia. The video looks at strength-based practice in Doncaster.

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