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Strengthening families: a new approach to child protection

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1 Strengthening families: a new approach to child protection
Presentation to London Safeguarding Children Board Conference December 2010 Joseph Davenport, Barry Luxton, Sarah Peel

2 Context Recommendation of the SCR into the death of Peter Connelly tasked the LSCB with assuring; “that child protection conferences are administered efficiently, attended assiduously, managed authoritatively and produce decisions which are child-focussed, with child protection plans that are purposeful and authoritative”.

3 Families’ experiences
Recent research undertaken by Family Commission in Haringey; Only one of the four mothers felt the case conference was a positive experience. Professionals need to understand how intimidating it is to be so ‘outnumbered’ in a formal meeting; Parents felt they lacked the necessary information about what would happen; Parents feel unprepared and one explicitly complained about not having the paperwork on their case in advance; Families want a more respectful, open, helpful, challenging, but less judgmental form of social work. If families do not trust their social worker, they will play the game of doing what they believe is expected of them but will not really positively embrace change. They will operate in a climate of being ‘observed’ and ‘judged’ - giving little away.

4 Research suggests conferences should
Have a greater focus on planning Enable families to present their views Ensure all views are grounded in evidence Promote discussion and explore dissent Place a strong emphasis on relationships Reduce power inequalities Build on strengths 7 of 17 Like to be able to tell you that all of these things led us to design in WB a model which delivered to these requirements but actually we didn’t know about the research until afterwards and used it to support implementation It was essentially a values driven exercise. By then Restotrtive practice and ideas were gaining currency, led by a burgeoning FGC service. The values can be summarised by the restorative window (next slide)

5 Strengthening Families Framework
From Minnesota to Gateshead and Brent! Two mentions in the Munro first report (Dr Munro is also due to speak at an international conference in the Netherlands on Signs of Safety approach in Sept 2011) More similarities with than differences from the traditional business meeting format of Child Protection Conferences… Reports Pre-meetings with families Multi-agency meeting with parents attending Decision about harm Protection plan …but designed to help families participate more easily, to help all participants assess risk better and for all to be more engaged in the development of a CP plan.

6 Underpinning influences of SFF
Andrew Turnell & Steve Edwards book “Signs of Safety” Focus on risk and safety Key learning from Family Group Conferences (FGC) FGC & Restorative Practice UK CP Conferences Messages from Research Signs of Safety and Solution Focused practice Case Mapping 9 of 17 FGC and restorative practice – level up the playing field; importance of preparation; everyone getting the chance to have their say, share their information, state their position without being shouted down. Messages from research – also influential in making them want to empower family voices Case Mapping – say more about that in a minute. So – get on with describing how the model works in practice

7 Comprehensive Risk Assessment
2 of 17 Summary of the position which SoS adopts and the hypothesis it adopts – if you find ways of mobilising family knowledge and understanding of existing safety, you will get a more balanced risk assessment AT’s SoS training – ‘maps’ a case (explain). If you read the book, you will notice that case ‘mapping’ is not part of it, although the one page assessment tool is, but the exercise of a group of people getting together and using a framework on a whiteboard to share and evaluate information isn’t. But it is probably the best bit of the SoS training and provides the ‘Aha! Or lightbulb moment for most social worker / professionals. So in sense case ‘mapping’ has been a by-product of the SoS model. And case mapping is the foundation for this model of conferencing – but not the only influence. The case for doing something different – next slide Family Knowledge Network and Culture Balanced Assessment of Risk Danger Safety Professional Knowledge Network and Authority ©2000Andrew Turnell PO Box 56 Burswood WA 6100 Australia,

8 Key differences Building safety for children at risk of harm
Visible and transparent analysis of the information presented to the meeting Analysis of risks as well as safety/protective factors Engages professionals and parents as part of the solution Seeks cooperation thus highlights lack of cooperation The plan is owned by the conference and is not the work of the chair – improved working together in core group Clearer about outcomes which indicate effective safeguarding – better chance of change or timely decision making. Information is sifted and organised

9 Strengthening Families Framework
Danger/Harm Risk Statements Complicating Factors Safety Strengths/Protective Factors Strengthening Families Framework Safety Statement/ Outcomes ℴ Detail re: incident(s) Bringing the family to the attention of the agency. ℴ Pattern/family history GENOGRAM/ECOMAP Strengths demonstrated as protection over time ℴ Pattern/history of exceptions ℴ Risk to child(ren) ℴ Context of risk ℴ Condition/behaviours that contribute to greater difficulty for the family ℴ Presence of research based risk factors ℴ Assets, resources, capacities within family, individual/community ℴ Presence of research based protective factors (Grey Area) Description of the child’s care experience in positive terms Outline Plan 1. Keyworker 2. Visiting frequency 3. Outcomes 4. Core Group – who? 5. Core Group dates 6. Safety bottom lines 7. Review CPC date Lohrbach, S. & Sawyer, R (2004) Creating a constructive practice: family and professional partnership in high-risk child protection case conferences. Protecting Children, 19(2):

10 The role of Conference Chairs;
Roles The role of Conference Chairs; Active Facilitative Directive Challenging Enabling Expectations of professionals; Clearer focus on analysis of risks Engagement in the protection plan

11 Key elements Chair meets family first Layout of room Refreshments
Style of chairing (facilitative) Family can be helped to complete genogram Succinct presentation of information Family gets opportunity to respond Clear and transparent focus on risk, danger, harm, complicating factors and safety Risk statement Plan – focus on bringing about change Decision

12 The conference set up White Board 11 of 17 Preparation and seating
The shape of the seating is different – a horseshoe in front of the whiteboard. The arrows (click them in if they are not there) represent contributions from participants Note the arrows – say more about that later White Board

13 Potential benefits/challenges
Shifts the balance of power Significant change in the approach of chairs Importance of multi-agency ownership and engagement Should have a system wide impact The focus must be on risks Requires professionals to synthesise and analyse information Develops intervention plans rather than monitoring plans – requires different skill set

14 Implementation - Haringey
Presentation and discussion at LSCB Role of CPAs in early planning for the ICPC Development work with CPAs Multi-agency briefings for social workers, TMs and partner agencies Report and minutes formats Practicalities – room, whiteboard and refreshments

15 The Brent Experience Initial Stages;
Began by observing a conference in West Berkshire Discussion with the Chair’s on implementing the approach in Brent. Challenges were the different approach for Chairs to conferences, lack of money to implement significant changes, and limits on room size and locations Would other agencies embrace new approach? How would we evaluate its effectiveness?

16 The Brent Experience Implementation;
Chairs agreed to share experiences and give it a go (one opted to retire) Two multi-agency outreach sessions arranged to demonstrate and explain the new model Initial feedback was that new approach is embraced Agreed a timescale for beginning the new format and evaluation period by conference attendees Kept the conference room arranged the same, but added white board as focal point. Chair mainly stands to write All done for a cost of approx. £500 (two white boards, some supplies, training room rentals, and biscuits!)

17 White Board is natural focal point
Conference Room Layout White Board is natural focal point White Board

18 Current Risks/ Concerns Safety/Protective Factors
On The White Board Current Risks/ Concerns Historic/ Complicating Factors Grey Areas Safety/Protective Factors Strengths/ Positives How significant is the harm or risk of harm to the child(ren)? Low High Different Colours used for professionals family, and Social Care. How likely are the children to suffer harm without Social Care’s involvement? Low High Desired Outcome Actions By Who By When Sally no longer experiences the emotional harm from domestic violence in the home. Social worker to refer mother to a domestic violence agency to explore safety planning and cycles of abuse. Social Worker Mother Within 2 weeks ASAP

19 The Brent Experience Results;
Feedback from professionals and family members are that 68% in favour of new format Anecdotal evidence shows less conflict with families, less adversarial format, more engagement with plan Greater understanding by family and professionals as to what the concerns are, acknowledgement of strengths, and grey areas that need to be done or assessed further More discussion and debate amongst participants on the plan and decision making CP Plans much SMARTer and built for purpose around the children and family’s needs.

20 The Brent Experience Unexpected Results;
Professionals and Social Workers are increasingly incorporating the 5 categories into their assessments and reports to conference Social Work managers using categories in supervision to help gain better understanding and insight into cases Key Complaints; Takes too long! “We should have always done them (conferences) this way, I don’t know why we didn’t” - Health Visitor, 20+ years experience

21 Hackney Experience Context of Reclaiming Social Work Influences are:
Strengthening Families Family Network Meetings Behavioural and Systemic Approach

22 Hackney’s introduction of New Conferencing
Broad consultation Number of workshops for agencies Internal workshops for Hackney CYPS Training for Chairs – Solution Focussed/Signs of Safety/ Systemic work Work with case holding Units to promote Signs of Safety assessment tools for children.

23 For further details… West Berkshire Signs of Safety Website
Signs of Safety Website Presenter Contact Details

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