Secured through a successful, £3 million Council bid to the Department for Education, the partnership will see the two authorities working together to improve outcomes for local children and families.
Importance of family
Family Valued is an approach that focuses on the strengths and importance of family and is centred on productive working relationships between practitioners and families. Its impact in Leeds has included a reduction in the rate and number of cared for children, as well as fewer child protection plans. As a result of children spending less time ‘in the social work system,’ it has also meant a saving of £755 per family compared to ‘business as usual’ social work.
Almost 200 of Sefton Children’s Social Care team were able to attend the recent two-day, introductory sessions, which included an introduction from Sefton’s new Director of Education and Children’s Services, Martin Birch.
Conditions for success
In a presentation, Steve Walker, Leeds City Council’s Director of Strengthening Families, Protecting Children said that the Family Valued approach is not “rocket science”. He said it is about getting the basics right and “creating the conditions for success” which means the right culture and ethos, leadership and partnership and workforce and practice.
Each of the sessions included group and the opportunity to put forward ideas for a name for Sefton’s own version of Leeds Family Valued. The suggestion will be shared with Sefton’s Making a Difference group, a group of care experienced young people, and Sefton’s Young Ambassadors group.
The next step will be for Children’s Services teams to take part in restorative practice training sessions that focus on strengthening relationships between people and the social connections with members of the local community.
After the launch events, Martin Birch said: “I am delighted we have got this new Family Valued partnership with Leeds underway as it will build upon the improvement work already started as we respond to the recent Ofsted recommendations by learning and delivering better results for children, young people and their families in Sefton.
“Feedback to the introductory sessions was very positive and included comments such as ‘it was just what we needed to focus and motivate us all on our way up’ and ‘I came out excited for the months/years ahead,’.
“Our staff are ready to take on the challenges we face and determined to achieve success for all of our children, young people and families.”
Steve Walker, Leeds City Council’s Director of Strengthening Families, Protecting Children said: “We are delighted to be working with colleagues in Sefton to implement Family Valued.
“I have been impressed by the commitment that I have seen from elected members, partners and staff across Children’s Services to work together relationally to ensure that children and young people in Sefton have the opportunities they need and deserve to reach their potential.”
Cllr Mhairi Doyle MBE, Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care, said: “Adopting the Family Valued approach, combined with the significant extra resources we have allocated to Children’s Services in Sefton, will play a significant role in helping us to deal with the unprecedented demand we have seen since the pandemic.
“While we do, of course acknowledge our Ofsted rating and the need to improve it, our focus must be on ensuring Sefton’s children and young people benefit from the best services possible.
“We are committed to making sure they are safe, protected and inspired to reach their full potential and this week’s events are an important step on that path.”