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DfE innovation findings on Family Safeguarding - Hertfordshire

Evaluation Report July 2017 - This innovation is a whole-system reform of Children’s Services which aims to improve the quality of work undertaken with families, and thereby outcomes for children and parents. It brings together a partnership including the police, health (including mental health), probation and substance misuse services.

Key elements include specialist workers with domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health expertise joining teams; training in Motivational Interviewing (which we at Intreface provided) as a framework for practice for all staff; a move to group case discussions; and structured tools to support direct work. In addition, there is an attempt to provide practice-enabling factors, such as reduced caseloads and assessment workbooks.

Interface are delighted to have been part of this success of this having provided the training on motivayional interviewing. The findings demonstrated that two-thirds of respondents expressed agreement that MI was having a positive impact on engagement with, and outcomes for, families. Some workers identified MI as one of the biggest successes of the Innovation, reflecting that the approach was supporting frontline staff to ‘empower parents to change, therefore reduce the risk to children’, and that it allowed for ‘more effective engagement with difficult parents’.

More generally the report demonstrated some interesting national implications:

  • all local authorities should consider the potential that multidisciplinary working has for improving practice and outcomes in Children’s Services. In Hertfordshire adult specialists have played a central part in creating more family focused assessment and intervention, and this has helped reduce the need for children to enter care, and contributed to other positive outcomes
  • multidisciplinary working requires more than simply recruiting adult specialists; processes such as group case discussion and a framework for practice, in this case MI, are necessary to make this a genuinely multidisciplinary experience, and to provide a framework for helpful discussion and new ways of thinking
  • the KPIs are a hugely promising approach to measuring outcomes, though setting them up was very resource intensive. We think it important that this innovation continues and is taken up in other local authorities
  • this evaluation provides a very positive set of initial indicators of outcomes in such a short period. It provides unequivocal support for continuing the development of FSH. We would therefore encourage other local authorities to consider replicating, or implementing, central elements of FSH. However, for this to work, it needs to be seen as more than a technical fix. To be successful it also requires committed and passionate leadership.

 To read the full report see here.