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Children's services

Walsall selected for national pilot to transform children’s social care

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Walsall is one of seven new areas in England selected to pilot the ‘Families first for children’ pathfinder programme – a national reform to children’s social care, which is designed to keep more children in safe and loving homes, and improve child protection.

Image is a photograph of Council House, Lichfield Street, Walsall.

As a ‘pathfinder’ area, Walsall will test new ways of working to help more children stay with their families, and further strengthen the Early Help partnership to ensure families suffering from issues such as domestic abuse, addiction, and poor mental health, can receive Family Help at the earliest opportunity.

The programme will build upon Walsall’s existing multi-agency Family Safeguarding Service and Early Help offer.

Other areas selected for the programme are Luton, Redbridge, Lewisham, Warrington, Warwickshire and The Wirral, and follow a first wave of testing which began last year in Dorset, Lincolnshire, and Wolverhampton.

The pathfinder programme is part of the government’s children's social care reform strategy, Stable Homes, Built on Love, which aims to revolutionise the current system to put more focus on early intervention and best practice child protection where required.

The programme follows an Independent National Review to Children’s Social Care in 2021, which highlighted ways the social care system could better support children and families in England.

In Walsall, the Families first programme will support families and children by:

  • Developing existing services to support families, creating multi-disciplinary ‘family help teams’, to make sure families with multiple needs can access all the support they need earlier and in one place  
  • Making greater use of extended family members within a child’s network, with them being the first port of call if extra support is required, providing practical and financial support to them if needed  
  • Establishing a dedicated multi-agency child protection team to oversee timely and purposeful intervention for the borough’s most vulnerable children  
  • Creating stronger and clearer multi-agency safeguarding partnership arrangements, including an increased role for education and improved oversight and scrutiny.

“ Every child and family in Walsall deserves to feel happy, safe, and have their voices heard, so they can live full and positive lives.

The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in 2021 highlighted new ways the social care system could and should work, and we are delighted that Walsall is now one of the few selected areas in England to test some of these new ways of working, which we are confident will have a positive impact on our children and families in the borough.

We’re pleased that nationally, Walsall has been recognised as an area ready and able to actively participate in the pathfinder programme, and we will continue to work with partners to ensure children in Walsall are kept safe and achieve good outcomes. “

Colleen Male, Executive Director for Children’s Services
Walsall Council

More information about the Families first for children pathfinder programme can be found on the GOV.UK website:


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