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Frequently asked questions about safeguarding

A selection of our frequently asked questions are below.

If your query isn't covered, please email the family safeguarding team and a member of the project team will get back to you as soon as possible.

Family Safeguarding is an approach funded by the Department of Education, developed in Hertfordshire. Walsall is in the second phase of roll out. 

This is based on the idea that the best way to keep children safe is to support the adults who already care for them, keeping the children in their families wherever safe and possible.

It is a positive strength-based approach that combines well with the values of restorative practice.

It is used when the key issues in a family are affected by:

  • substance abuse
  • mental health
  • domestic abuse

It is focused on family strengths and enabling parents.

If you require more information, please contact us by email

We are ambitious for our children and families.

We know there are lots of areas of need and inequalities so it is even more important we intervene when it is needed in ways which are supportive.

The Department of Education funding brings a real opportunity to bring in some resources to help us further embed our Right Help Right Time approaches.

The adult specialist workers come from a variety of backgrounds and have expertise in one or more of these areas:

  • domestic abuse (victim and perpetrator support)
  • mental health and substance mis-use

They have 3 main roles:

  1. Working directly with families after an allocation or prioritisation conversation.
  2. Offering advice or consultation to the Family Safeguarding teams (sometimes outside their 'home team').
  3. Running groups.

In total, we will have 16 adult specialist workers, made up of 4 people from the backgrounds above. We will have over 70% in post on 1st September.

A lot of these will be sent to you after you have completed the training.

They are also available on Microsoft Teams. Team managers should have access to the 'Family Safeguarding Resources'. 

You can request access directly from us by email or contact Helen Billings directly

Some children with disabilities who are allocated to Family Safeguarding teams will absolutely use this model.

Some children with disabilities have a range of extra needs and considerations such as respite placements and are seen by a specialist team.

Children with this pattern of need were not part of the original Hertfordshire model, so while we are evaluating we need to stick to a similar approach.

Over time, as we embed family safeguarding, we may transfer our learning to other service areas.

For workers in the Family Safeguarding Teams, the 4 main courses are:

  • thresholds and family rights
  • family safeguarding IT, workbook recording and case supervision
  • family safeguarding intervention programme
  • motivational interviewing

The managers have 2 extra courses:

  • working with multi-disciplinary teams
  • reflective auditing

There is a monthly multi-disciplinary team discussion for every family under Family Safeguarding. This is called group supervision.

All professionals from the in-house multi-disciplinary team that are allocated to the family will contribute to the conversation and the plan for the family on a standardised form which sits in mosaic.

There has been a lot of positive changes recently in the way we support mums who are pregnant and are referred to services.

In order to build on this success, these families will be using the family safeguarding approach to support with those issues around:

  • domestic violence
  • drug and alcohol issues
  • and mental health

This should lead to less newborns being removed from their families when the extra support and planning enhances the safety of those families.

The overriding purpose of family safeguarding is to keep families safe and supported, leading to better outcomes for children and their parents.

Hertfordshire, where the model originated, also saved a lot of money simply by doing the right thing for those families.

The main area of efficiency (saving time) was a reduction in time taken to get support for the parents.

The main money saved was a reduction in the numbers of looked-after children and therefore the costs of their placements.

We can all think of families that might have stayed together safely if they had timely and effective support.

In order to do family safeguarding well, we cannot do it by ourselves. We are lucky in Walsall that we are building on some long-standing positive relationships.

As the 2 other main statutory bodies, the police and the NHS are fully supportive. Charities actively involved such as Black Country Women’s Aid and the Beacon are also supportive.

In many areas, the health visitors are regular referrers into child protection services.

Nationally they have been through a huge re-organisation. In part, this has meant that health visitors refer less often.

This is an ideal opportunity to build bridges and improve links with these valuable professionals.

The evidence from areas that have implemented Family Safeguarding is that children do better when their parents are supported, especially for those under 13.

The levels of school attendance improves and the number of attendances at A&E goes down.

Evidence suggests these children do not benefit from Family Safeguarding.

In parallel to the family safeguarding work, we are looking at Turning Point and other developments to see how we can better support those children and the social workers supporting them.

This might happen, though patterns in health have shown that needs rise incrementally.

It will start to build and we may have a few weeks to make plans for the higher volume.

Preparations are already underway for a spike in September 2020.

If a family meets the threshold for Family Safeguarding, the Initial Response Service (IRS) worker will be able to identify the presence of any one of the criteria:

  • domestic abuse
  • mental health
  • substance misuse

They will then have a drop down selection to open a workbook on Mosaic. They do not have to do any more than that.

They can identify to the team manager if they think an adult worker is required. However, the 'team manager' is the 'gatekeeper' for those referrals as very soon the adult workers will get really busy.

Any improvement will take time.

Initially, we will hear stories of staff experiences being different.

However, already we know of examples where things have been sped up or more quality interventions have taken place.

After that, the families who have been re-referred will start to comment on changes.

In about 6 months, some of the measures will start to show measurable improvements.

Motivational interviewing has a long evidence-based history (especially in drug and alcohol services).

It is not necessarily something new, but is something that comes naturally to a lot of people working in the social care sector.

For others, it may take some time and practice to get used to working in this way.

We will be looking at practical refreshers and building it into supervisions and other skills development sessions.

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