Along with the Department for Education, we are delighted to announce our local authority partners for the first two projects launched under the Supporting Families: Investing in Practice programme
After an open application process and thorough assessment we are delighted to be able to announce over 40 local authority partners from across the country. A full list of partner local authorities is available here.
A proportion of the £15.5m dedicated to the Supporting Families: Investing in Practice programme by The Department for Education will fund the creation or extension of 15 Family Drug and Alcohol Courts, and support 24 local authorities to introduce Family Group Conferencing at pre-proceedings. These programmes aim to tackle the root cause of family problems, by strengthening the expert support available from social workers, addiction specialists and psychiatrists.
We are also pleased to announce our evaluation partners. Coram will design and run the evaluation of Family Group Conferencing and NatCen will lead on the evaluation of innovative variations on Family Drug and Alcohol Courts. Independent evaluation is a vital part of building a trust-worthy evidence base, and Coram and NatCen bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the evaluation of this project.
Michael Sanders, Executive Director, What Works for Children’s Social Care said:
“Today we’re announcing research projects on Family Drug and Alcohol Courts and Family Group Conferences in partnership with more than 40 local authority partners covering a quarter of all children’s services in England. As well as helping us advance the evidence base, this will help ensure that many more children and their families can access promising services which we hope will lead to more children and young people being able to stay safely at home with their families.”
Family Drug and Alcohol Courts
This project provides a problem solving approach to care proceedings, where a team of substance misuse specialists, domestic violence experts, psychiatrists and social workers carry out an early assessment and agree an intervention plan with parents who come before the court in care proceedings. Once in proceedings, parents begin a “trial for change”, supported by the specialist team and with regular meetings with the judge, who reviews the progress being made as well as adjudicating in the case . The Family Drug and Alcohol Court model has been evaluated previously and found to have strong evidence of a positive effect on family reunification. As well as expanding the model to new sites, innovations of the FDAC model in existing sites will be tested to see if further improvements can be made.
Family Group Conferences
This project puts families at the heart of making safe decisions and plans for children that are at immediate risk of being taken into care. Children and young people are involved in the conference along with their wider family network, and often supported by an advocate from outside the family. Together, a plan is agreed by all those involved and families agree to meet again to assess how well the plan is going and make the changes necessary to protect children.
Further information can be found here.