Solihull Council has been successful in being accepted onto the £84m Strengthening Families, Protecting Children Programme which will see it adopt the ‘Family Valued’ project, recently launched by the Department for Education (DfE).
Solihull is one of 15 areas which have been successful in being accepted onto this innovative programme.
Data shows Solihull Council has a higher number of children in care than the national average, so the Council will adopt the ‘Family Valued’ project. This is one of three successful projects created through the Government’s landmark Innovation Programme designed to support families to stay together wherever appropriate, so that fewer children need to be taken away from their birth families.
The Family Valued project will look to support vulnerable children in Solihull who are at risk of being taken into care as a result of their parents’ problems with mental health, domestic violence or addiction. The project is designed to deal with these issues early on and keep them safely together at home.
Councillor Ken Meeson, Solihull Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Education & Skills, said:
“We are pleased to have been accepted onto the Strengthening Families, Protecting Children Programme.
“We have gone through a significant transformation with our children’s services over the last year. We hope this new project, and its welcome investment, will allow us to continue and even improve our support and safeguarding service for our most vulnerable children, young people and families.
“We look forward to working with Leeds City Council and learning from the ‘Family Valued’ model they have already successfully developed.”
Children and Families Minister Michelle Donelan said:
“I want every child to grow up in safe, stable and loving homes where they feel supported to take on the challenges life can present. However, in Solihull we have seen increasing numbers of children being taken into care, often as a result of their parents’ mental illness, alcohol or drug addiction, or the trauma of domestic violence.
“We cannot ignore the disruption to children’s lives that these issues cause, and that is why this government is investing in projects that tackle problems head on, backed by evidence that shows it can work. The Family Valued model is already proving to be successful in keeping families safely together, and giving stability for children where it did not exist before.”
Solihull’s ‘Family Valued’ project is one of the three being expanded across the country; this particular project was pioneered in Leeds:
It works with the whole family unit and any extended support network to encourage long term changes at home that keep children safe, taking the approach of working with families rather than imposing measures on them. Independent evaluation of the project’s impact on the target population shows that between 2011 and 2017, Leeds reduced the number of children on children’s services protection plans by nearly 50 per cent (974 in 2011 down to 515 in 2017).
Steve Walker, director of children and families at Leeds City Council said:
“In Leeds we believe that children are the most valuable resource we have. We know that strong children grow up in strong families, and those strong families create strong communities which makes Leeds such a vibrant and successful city.
“With partners we have used a relational approach to working with families - rather than doing things for them or to them - to ensure that when children and families need help they receive it in the right way and at the right time. Families have told us that they like this way of working and the impact of this approach can be seen in the positive outcomes we have delivered for children and young people in Leeds.
“We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with other local authorities, and to share our insight and experience of a different and more positive way for Children’s Social Work Services to work with children and families.”