Hertfordshire Family Safeguarding

Family Safeguarding is a whole family, strengths-based approach to child protection. Our child safeguarding work is undertaken by children’s social workers, adult mental health practitioners, substance misuse and probation officers, working together as one team. Together, we combine our knowledge and expertise to assess the needs of the whole family, providing services to meet those needs and supporting parents to achieve sustained change for themselves and their children. By meeting the needs of parents and developing their confidence, we can successfully reduce risk to children and reduce the need for children to come into care.

Herts Family Safeguarding - a mother, father and child

The teams use Motivational Interviewing (MI) as a shared model of practice. MI is a strengths-based conversational approach to counselling that encourages families to improve their child’s welfare by enhancing their readiness for change. The key elements of MI are developing a partnership between the worker and the parent; drawing out the parent’s thoughts and ideas about change and emphasising their autonomy, whilst recognising that the true power and responsibility of change, sits with them. We provide perpetrator, recovery and cognitive behavioural therapy programmes from within our teams, rather than referring parents/carers elsewhere and we make it as easy as we can for them to access help. Recording has been transformed by developing the Family Safeguarding Workbook that guides the social work practice with families and makes it more purposeful as well as providing space for all practitioners involved with the family to contribute to analysis, planning and sharing the decision making. We have reduced bureaucracy to a minimum to free up time for practitioners to spend more time in direct work with children and families.

Herts Safeguarding: TOP = Motivational Interviewing: A strengths-based conversational approach that encourages families to choose change. LEFT = FS Workbook and Family Programme: Shared recording across agencies and guiding purposeful social work to achieve change. RIGHT = Multidisciplinary Teams: A team of specialists working together to address parental domestic abuse, substance misuse, and/or mental health. View graphic in new window

Outcomes

Family Safeguarding has resulted in positive outcomes for children and adults, as well as for Hertfordshire’s Safeguarding Partnership. These include:

  • 66 per cent reduction in repeat domestic abuse call outs by police, achieved for successive cohorts of families over a five-year timespan
  • 60 per cent reduction in the number of children on child protection plans for five years
  • 30 per cent reduction in children under 12 becoming looked after as a result of abuse/neglect, each year for five years
  • Improved staff recruitment and retention across all disciplines as staff felt more supported
  • Partnerships strengthened across agencies and Courts
  • The savings achieved exceeded the cost of the set-up of the model by month eight of the first year
  • Cumulative cost avoidance for HCC is on target to exceed £220m by year 10

Family Safeguarding Hertfordshire: Evaluation report (Department for Education, 2017)