Leeds Family Valued
Family Valued (FV) is an approach that seeks to promote relational (restorative) practice. It is underpinned by fostering a clear set of shared values and practice principles which emphasise the strengths and importance of family and is centred on productive working relationships between workers and families, and beyond that with partner agencies and the wider community.
FV is centred on a clear focus on the child and how reform and day-to-day work will improve their outcomes. FV is underpinned by the relational principle of working with children and families, rather than doing things to or for them. It is designed to function as a whole system change across children’s services, whereby practitioners, teams and wider partnerships’ practice is shaped and informed by shared restorative language, culture, behaviours and ways of working.
There are four core strands within the FV approach:
- A foundation of restorative practice training for all staff and managers to develop and embed shared relational and restorative language, values, principles and practices.
- An intensive programme of leadership, culture and practice development. This begins with working with all levels of leadership and managers to promote their role in driving culture change, organisational reform and practice leadership. This is then supplemented by a wider programme of practice development for practitioners, aiming to provide practical tools to apply relational theory to daily practice and promoting restorative high support and challenge in reflection and supervision.
- Creation or expansion of the Family Group Conference (FGC) service, in order to assert the right of families to develop their own solutions, to provide practical support for them to do so wherever it is possible and safe for the child; and to act as a catalyst within the local system in promoting changing practice. The aim is that, over time, all families should be offered an FGC before the local authority undertakes any statutory intervention (unless this would potentially place a child at significant risk). This scaling of FGC had not been previously seen in the UK, and builds on work already undertaken and evidence of what works to take restorative practice to a much wider scale across, and beyond, children’s services.
- Work with local leaders to critically review local systems and structures and identify where reform or investment is needed in order to help reduce pressures and create the time and space for relational working. This is tailored to the needs of each local authority and might include such areas as the Front Door; restorative approaches to domestic violence or the functioning of the Independent Reviewing Officer role.
The impact of the Family Valued model in Leeds includes a reduction in the rate and number of children looked after, as well as reduced child protection plans and children in need. A cost benefit analysis of the use of FGCs found an average saving of £755 per family when compared to ‘business as usual’ social work without FGCs, due to families spending less time in the system.
Leeds Family Valued: Evaluation report (Department for Education, 2017)