A new strategy to reduce the number of Blackpool children being taken into care has been launched by the council.
The Early Help Strategy will involve teachers, police and health workers being given more power to raise concerns before a family situation reaches crisis point.
It is hoped this will ensure those in need of support can access the right help as soon as a problem arises, preventing the need for children to be taken into care.
Blackpool has one of the highest rates of looked after children in the country, with nearly 600 currently in care.
The strategy aims to keep more children with their families
Since April 2019, the council has received 11,800 requests for support for individual children, resulting in 5,300 social care assessments.
Coun Jim Hobson, cabinet member for Children’s Social Care and Schools, said: “The strategy is in place to offer young people and their families the right help, at the right time, in the right place, with the right people.
“This means that early help intervention is everyone’s business, with our final aim being that any worker from any agency, provider or service will be able to respond to those in need.”
Council chiefs say the new strategy will enable social workers to focus on those families most in need.
Coun Hobson added: “We hope that this new way of doing things will reduce the number of families who need higher levels of support, allowing our social workers to focus on those families who really need that higher level of support.”
In February this year the council unveiled a five year strategy to transform children’s social care and take control of its spiralling cost.
Among the aims is to reduce the annual cost of the service from £48m to £33m, and bring the number of children in care down to around 400.
Around 80 per cent of the children’s services budget is spent on children in care. Around 55 per cent of the budget goes on residential placement costs which can be up to £7,000 per week.
The Early Help Strategy will work with agencies and partners including police, health, schools, nursery providers and colleges.
Initiatives include –
* Work in neighbourhood areas with all providers delivering services to children and their families
* Use an early help process of ‘assess, plan, do, review’ to understand and respond to needs early
* Undertake early help assessments that consider whole family’s needs but remain child and young person focused
* Support lead professionals from all agencies to undertake early help work
* Improve the quality and impact of its work to support sustainable changes with families
* Work within the Blackpool Families Rock model of practice