Newham Council has been awarded £2.6 million by The Department for Education (DfE) to develop new approaches to children’s social care.
The funding has being given to projects that seek to “rethink” how children’s social care is delivered and improve looked-after children’s transition into adulthood as part of the DfE’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.
Newham Council received the funding as part of the second wave of this programme, the money will be used to deliver a ground-breaking new initiative called ‘New Day’, which aims to build safer environment for children affected by domestic abuse, and enable them to thrive.
Newham plans to revamp and re-focus social care to support its practitioners, build greater safety for families wanting to stay together or separate, and empower children to achieve their potential.
Children who are affected by domestic abuse will be provided with targeted support to achieve their learning potential at school through the extension of Newham’s reputable Virtual School. Four Virtual School Teaching Staff will be recruited to work with identified vulnerable children, young people and their parents.
The Virtual School consists of a multi-disciplinary team that work with young people, schools, colleges, social workers and foster carers to support young people through school and into further or higher education, employment or training. It is a bespoke service that provides support to young people in educational settings as well as giving them additional learning experiences, support with school moves and advice and guidance on educational pathways.
In addition to this, more direct work will be carried out with children, survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse. The experiences of children will be used to help to shape social care assessments.
Newham’s practitioners will receive additional training in systemic practice to so they can work with families with complex needs rather than referring them on to other agencies.
Furthermore, a dedicated cohort of staff including therapists and specialists trained in domestic abuse cases will be recruited. These practitioners will model best practice and will be based across Newham’s four integrated neighbourhood areas.
The New Day programme aims to see a significant reduction in domestic abuse cases requiring repeat social care support and better learning outcomes amongst children who are affected by domestic abuse. As well as a long term reduction in the number of placements for looked after children who are affected by domestic abuse.
Councillor Rev. Quintin Peppiatt, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Services, said: “It is great that the DfE has recognised the work that Newham has already undertaken to support families affected by domestic abuse. This funding will enable us to build on our practice, help our children to flourish and transform their life chances.”
James Thomas, Director of Children and Young People Services, said: “Social workers need skills, confidence and tools to work effectively with children and their families to achieve and sustain change. Our innovation will make families safer, but it will also go further than most to accelerate children’s learning and use their experiences to promote change – a factor we think is key to making a real difference to children’s life chances, and our ability to break intergenerational cycles of abuse.”