Earlier this year Leeds received news that we were successful in a bid of £4.85m from the Department for Education’s (DfE) Innovation Fund. We are using the Innovation funding to embed wide-scale culture and practice change, creating a much more family support oriented model.
We are doing this by enabling practitioners to use restorative techniques that work with children, young people and families to help them safely and appropriately find their own solutions to the difficulties they face before the need for more significant social care intervention.
We believe a child’s biggest influence is their family. So when there is a problem affecting a child or young person and if it is safe and appropriate to do so, we aim to work with families to help them find their own solutions to that problem. Wider family members, like grandparents or even friends can often provide the support needed, so we try to include them in finding the solution. We believe that this is a better more effective way of working.
With the fund, our aim is that across the city we can realise the following entitlement for children, young people and families in Leeds.
- The default behaviour of children’s services in all its dealings with local citizens/partners and organisations is restorative - high support with high challenge
- Children’s Services in Leeds ensure that families, whose children might otherwise be removed from their homes, are supported to meet and develop an alternative plan before such action is taken
- In all other cases where there are concerns about the safeguarding or welfare of a child or children, we work safely and appropriately with the family to support them in helping to decide what needs to happen
This commitment to working with people is called restorative practice and we’ve been using it more and more in Leeds with positive results and great feedback from families. We are running a one year project that will make this approach an entitlement for all families where there are concerns about a child.
We’re training thousands of people who work with children, young people and families in how to use restorative approaches, so they can have the right conversations at the right time before an issue becomes more serious. You can find the restorative practice training offer in the documents section of this page.
Family group conferences
We are also using family group conferences more widely so that when problems are more serious we work with the whole family, including the child themselves, to find solutions that safely avoid the child having to be taken into care.
Find out more
We’ll be reporting on the difference that this works make and sharing the findings so that others can learn about this approach. You can read more about what the Family Valued Project involves in the Executive Summary of our Innovation Fund Bid in the documents section. Our newsletters are also available in the documents section.