Four children’s services initiatives have been awarded a total of £11m from the Department for Education’s Innovation Fund.
In addition to the £558,000 for the pan-London FGM project, Islington Council has received £2.9m, Newcastle Council £2.7m, and Hertfordshire County Council is being handed £4.86m.
The FGM project in London will see social workers experienced in dealing with the form of abuse team up with special hospital-based FGM clinics across five boroughs – Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Waltham Forest, Westminster and Tower Hamlets. The service will also include community mediators with experience of speaking with local communities, as well as special male support workers to work directly with fathers and community faith leaders, and psychological support for women who have undergone FGM.
In Newcastle, the money will be used to set up specialist social work teams to better identify families struggling with domestic violence or substance misuse, as well as improving how the system responds to them. The programme will also support Newcastle’s social workers to develop specialist skills, increase expertise in certain areas and build stronger working relationships with specialists from other disciplines.
Islington Council will use the money to overhaul the way it works with the most vulnerable children and families. Social workers will be trained in motivational interviewing – a technique intended to create a trusting relationship with the social worker and the family to encourage change. Islington will also work in conjunction with a social care research centre – the Tilda Goldberg Centre – to assess the impact of the new approach.
The project in Islington is similar to the one planned for Hertfordshire, which has been handed £4.86m to reshape its child protection services and train children’s social workers in motivational interviewing techniques. Social work teams will also adopt a new “electronic workbook” to record assessments in order to help reduce time spent on administration.