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Supporting Children and Families

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Mary Shannon & Berni Smyth
Supporting Children and Families - A
Comparison in Service Delivery

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The context of Intensive FS

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Aims
• To present the results of a small scale comparative
research project undertaken in 2012 exploring
intensive prevent...

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Supporting Children and Families

  1. 1. Mary Shannon & Berni Smyth Supporting Children and Families - A Comparison in Service Delivery
  2. 2. The context of Intensive FS
  3. 3. Aims • To present the results of a small scale comparative research project undertaken in 2012 exploring intensive preventative services targeted at children already in/ borderline of CP • Although some variations exist between the statutory CP system in Ireland & the UK, very similar results were found in terms of the workers approach and skills; elements they attributed for their success with families • This paper aims to explore these messages for both practitioners and families from this group of para- professionals
  4. 4. Current lit Focus on early Intervention & preventative services (Stevenson, 2007; The Allen Review, 2011) Growth of EBP in services (McAuley, Pecora & Rose, 2006; Dolan, Canavan & Pinkerton, 2006) Concern that traditional statutory services not reaching families/children (Stevenson, 2007; Howe, 2005; The Munro Review, 2011) Evidence from family support interventions about what works well (Hardy & Darlington, ‘08; Cornille et al, ’11)
  5. 5. ‘Think Family’ to ‘Troubled Family’  The 'Think Family' initiative was introduced by the DCSF(now DfE) in '08 following the 'Families at Risk' Review & ‘Respect’ agenda  Aimed to target support to families at risk- 140,000/13.8 million families experiencing entrenched, intergenerational problems • Outcomes- improved joint working  Cost effectiveness- ‘Negative Costing Tool’ :significant financial savings  Long term & complex families targeted  Dec 2010 Coalition introduced TF programme- cross departmental team Nov 2011  The rebranding of intensive family support services in the TF project
  6. 6. Main Features of the Models Evidence based practice- based on research about what can work Early identification of families at risk Strengthen families own abilities Meet all the family needs Respond to very challenging families
  7. 7. Evaluation of the Service- Key Findings Better outcomes for children's safeguarding through improved joint working cost effectiveness of the interventions measured using a ‘Negative Costing Tool’ Significant financial savings Long term & complex families targeted
  8. 8. The local context –LA Borough The Borough ranked 214/ 354 LAs in the index of multiple deprivation Pockets of significant deprivation • Fip models:YCAP FIP,IFIT,Baby FIP. Children's Centres, offered more targeted & intensive support • Plans to identify the top 50-100 families with multiple problems • Issues around domestic violence, drug & alcohol; misuse and mental health were priorities • Initial local outcomes positive
  9. 9. Child Protection and Welfare, Ireland  Steady increase in the number of child welfare reports and confirmed abuse cases.  In 2011, 21,040 child welfare and protection reports received by Social Workers, an increase of more than 50% since 2006. ( HSE Review of Adequacy of Child and Family Services 2012)  In 2011, there were 6,175 children in care. 9 out of 10 children in care are in foster placements. (Child Care Interim Data Set, HSE, 2011).  May be due to high profile investigations into institutional (eg, Catholic Church) abuse.
  10. 10. National Developments  In 2009 there was an identified need to establish national standards in Child Protection and resulting audit criteria for quality assessing CP and Social Work.  Need for the adoption of a national framework for assessment. ( HSE Review 2009)  Recent establishment of ‘Tusla’ and ‘Meithal’
  11. 11. Irish context- City and County Third largest city in Ireland, Population of 76,850 (Census 2011) City and County have a combined population of approximately 100,000. 7 Family Support Projects provided by the Health Service Executive (5 in the city, 2 in the county). E-Plus was one of a range of additional services funded and supported by the HSE to engage with vulnerable young people and their families.
  12. 12. Empowerment Plus •Established in 2008, E-Plus - charitable organization that describes itself as an empowerment support service to young people and families at high risk within their homes and families. Referrals were made through the HSE, (Child Protection, Disability Service, CAMHS, Psychology-Mental Health, Family Support and Fostering) •Service introduced to supplement FS Services provided by the state and to provide a more intensive response to families in crisis
  13. 13. Main Features of the Model  Needs led  24/7, Out of hours service  Families could self-refer  Majority of referrals from Social Work (CP).  Key Worker  Had been successful in supporting families in being moved on from CP  Participation voluntary  Time limited
  14. 14. Rationale Informed by international, UK and national research. Intensive approach suited to needs of hard to reach/families in crisis. Cost effective. Had proven successful in supporting families to keep their children at home.
  15. 15. Our Research Study Aims to explore factors contributing to successful outcomes Drawing on the current evidence base & evaluations carried out Additional qualitative research Focussing on “ . .important perspectives such as process and implementation data . . .” (Gould, ‘10)
  16. 16. Findings -Interviews Themes:  Intensity and the perceptions of the family “..that I can be approached..that I’m there 24/7...that I’m an emergency service...” “...putting in the hours with the family...” “..they expect that you’re going to do everything...”
  17. 17. Variety of tasks carried out “...direct work, going shopping ...cleaning...wishes & feelings work with children, safety plan with children ...debt work, court reports...its so varied really...” “...involved in all aspects of family life...” Describing some chaos in a large family: “...everyone trying to get my attention...”
  18. 18.  Focus on strengths and seeing hope in difficult cases “...you see a glimmer of hope...you have to contradict the social worker...” “...you really encourage and praise...” “..small changes.over time...”
  19. 19. Style of working “...its like old fashioned social work...” “...we adapt styles to suit the family...” “...honest & open...sense of humour...”
  20. 20. Value of relationships Referring to the in-depth nature:”...issues that the social worker thought were there...are not as bad...” “...you get to find out so much more...” “...you really get in there...”
  21. 21. Perception of other professionals can be negative Referring to social workers and other professionals: “...I wish other professionals recognised our role more...” Again, others “...don’t see the value of the practical tasks...”
  22. 22.  Balance of professional boundaries is an issue raised by all the workers One worker spoke about getting close & feeling like “...part of the family...” Finding it hard not to empathise: “...thinking’ I’m just like you’ ..but I’m not...”
  23. 23. Initial Findings - Interviews Themes: Intensity and the perceptions of the family When I first go into a family, they think you’re some kind of super nanny’ ‘You’re going into their houses so much that you become part of the furniture’ We’re a 24/7 service, there’s always someone at the end of a phone’. ‘The whole idea of E-Plus is that we have time, we don’t just fly in and out’
  24. 24. • Variety of tasks carried out I could be in my old clothes painting a room one day and in my good suit going to a case conference the next.’ ‘Ive painted a house, cleaned, been to Child Welfare Conferences, Section 24 meetings, liaised with Social Workers, housing, schools and other professionals that are working with the family, extended family and then the family themselves.. We could be at the cinema, bowling, go-carting.. It’s just so different.’ ‘We start with the practical things (house maintenance, routine, order) first and then we try to fix the thing we have been sent into fix (parenting, school attendance)’. It varies
  25. 25. • Focus on strengths and seeing hope in difficult cases Be positive with them.. Build their self esteem.’ Be there to praise them for the little bit that they do… I know you can do it.’ ‘ I think we are giving them hope and I think they realize they can achieve things… things they thought they couldn’t.’ When we go in and we start to do the small things with them, it gives them hope.’ You cant give up.. You have to keep going back
  26. 26. • Style of working Getting to know the family, building up a good, positive rapport, gaining trust with the family. Each family is different and you have to work around that.’ I pick out who needs me most and start from there… some of them are just glad to see you coming to have a chat with them for your hour.’ Flexibility is the main thing for a family support worker.’ At least if you show them, take the time to teach them, it’s the personal contact, the empathy, that you can identify with them.
  27. 27. • Value of relationships Sometimes you need to delve a bit deeper’ (than the goal outlined in referral) ‘It’s the empathy… the personal touch.. These people who know nothing about them are talking about them or at them You have to gain a person’s confidence and then other things might start coming out.’ They might tell you things that they don’t tell other service providers.’
  28. 28. • Perception of other professionals can be negative Social Workers don’t have the same insight.’ Social Workers are not the same across the board Everybody (other professionals) seems to go gungho at the main problem and that’s just not going to work.’
  29. 29. • Balance of professional boundaries Nobody asks me what I’m bringing to that family’ (accountability). ‘The empathy really, that you can identify with them, that you have raised children too It becomes acceptable that we just come in and we can roam through the house.’
  30. 30. Conclusion • Many common themes & features across the two countries • “Further . . .research might allow us to better understand what is entailed when providing & receiving these services” (Van Puyenbroeck, Loots, Grietens, Jacquet, Vanderfaeillie & Escudero, 2009)
  31. 31. • Insights into direct work with families that is strengths based and child and family centred, along with the practical-emotional support provided by the family support workers, provides valuable learning for other practitioners involved with families, children & young people • Key lessons for multi agency workers from this group of paraprofessionals?

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