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Plan to reduce care numbers by giving families more support

A plan to reduce the numbers of Staffordshire children in care by giving families more of the support they need has been unveiled by Staffordshire County Council.

Services for children and families in the county will be transformed to ensure more families get the help they need sooner, preventing them from reaching crisis point, and reducing the need for high-cost, specialist support.

Already one of the few children’s services in the country that has been rated as ‘Good’ by Ofsted, the county council now want to build on a number of successful projects designed to help the whole family, and keep children at home when it is safe to do so.

To do this, it will transform services to provide expert support to address the root causes of a family’s problem, support families to meet their needs at the earliest possible point, and address the wider cause of any issue within families.

The aim is to provide the right mix of support from professionals, the voluntary sector, communities, families and friends so that people can live their lives to the fullest, and work with partners and communities in local areas to identify what’s there, what works and what’s missing.

A number of successful projects have already been running, including one that helps support so-called ‘troubled’ families, a project that supports pregnant mothers who have already had a child taken into care, and a service that works specifically with parents dealing with addictions.

County Councillor Mark Sutton, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said:  “We want Staffordshire children to have the best possible start in life, to grow up in safe, loving homes. Through innovation and closer working with other organisations, the county council has helped deliver real results for families and children in Staffordshire in recent years. More children are starting school ready to learn and thrive, the number of children in care is reducing and our Children’s Services – rated good by Ofsted – are among the best anywhere in the country.

“But we want to do more, to help more families manage the problems that come their way, to keep children safe, and to reduce the numbers of children in care. Our vision is to transform the way we work with families and children, providing the most effective help when it is needed and increasing support available from and in the community.

“We will always take immediate action if a child is at risk. This new approach aims to create more stable, supportive homes for our children, reducing the need for our help, and allowing us to target specialist support where it really makes a difference.”

The plans to transform children’s services will be presented to the county council’s Cabinet on Wednesday, June 21.