Strengthening Families Protecting Children Programme
In January 2015, Leeds received confirmation that it had been successful in bidding for Innovations funding from the Department of Education to expand its work on restorative practice to a scale not previously seen in the UK. Family Valued sought to increase the scale and speed of the implementation of restorative practice, and to target the work where it was most needed; namely, in local area clusters where the demand for social work services was high, and for families who were experiencing domestic abuse. Family Valued also included the further expansion of the Family Group Conference offer in the city.
The ambition of Family Valued was to embed restorative practice further across the children’s workforce; beyond local authority children’s services and into partner agencies across the city, with the recognition that their practitioners play a key role in preventative approaches and the culture change we wanted to see. The independent evaluation of the programme noted that the consistent and strategic focus on restorative practice resulted in more open and skilled social work practitioners and teams; social workers reported greater confidence in managing risk; and that restorative social work cannot be done in isolation – it must exist within a wider restorative system.
You can read more about Family Valued here.
In April 2019, the Department for Education announced that Leeds, Hertfordshire and North Yorkshire would be funded to work with twenty other local authorities – currently judged by Ofsted as requiring improvement – to rollout their successful Innovations programmes. This work forms the five-year Strengthening Families Protecting Children (SFPC) programme which will see Leeds work with six selected local authorities – Darlington as its trailblazer local authority partner, followed by Warwickshire, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Coventry, Solihull and Sefton.
Changing the culture and practice in Leeds has only been achieved due to the significant focus and effort on creating the environment needed for front line workers to deliver their best work with children and families. This wide-ranging programme of work has been crucial in creating the support, time, and space needed to improve practice and outcomes. The experience in Leeds, and wider research, shows that the whole children’s services system needs to be functioning well because problems in one area soon add pressures and difficulties across the system. Working with the selected six local authorities, Leeds will support the culture and practice change needed within each local context in order to drive and sustain improvement beyond the life of the SFPC programme.
The aims of the Strengthening Families Programme are to: