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Eleven innovative projects that help improve the lives of vulnerable children have been awarded £36m of government funding.




They are part of the children’s social care Innovation Programme which is underpinned by £200 million of government funding and has supported 59 projects to date under a scheme to explore and develop the best services for vulnerable children and their families.

Projects receiving the latest tranche of support – announced by Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families Edward Timpson - include initiatives that will help children who have been exposed to domestic abuse, support young disabled people living in care, and back care leavers as they get ready to start their adult lives.

Lasting support plan


Lifelong Links, run by the Family Rights Group, received one of the grants for an initiative which brings together as many people as possible who care about a child in a family group conference.

The aim is to build a lasting support plan with the child, from helping with their homework to taking them to a regular after-school club.

Family Rights Group Chief Executive, Cathy Ashley, explained that the money would fund work with seven local authorities to trial a transformative approach to creating life-long support networks for children and young people in care.

“Lifelong Links involves professionals using a variety of innovative ways of searching for, and connecting with, family members and other adults who care about the child,” she said. This network is then convened through a family group conference to make a lasting support plan with, and for, the young person.”

By starting early in a young person’s care journey, Lifelong Links aims to ensure those social networks are available to provide stability to their care experience and then offer support through the transition into independent living and beyond.

Creating supportive teams


Meanwhile, in another pilot, Havering council, aims to improve services for young people going into, and leaving care and will bring together teams of social workers, NHS staff, teachers and other professionals to tackle domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health problems.

Staff will learn how to support families and train them on how to prevent situations from escalating into potential safeguarding issues.

Councillor Robert Benham, Cabinet Member for Children and Learning at Havering Council, said: “Through innovation, enhanced resources and working with the young people themselves, we will design a service that truly meets their needs.

“A large focus will be on keeping young people out of care in the first place, enabling them to stay with their families wherever possible, ensuring that those who do need care get it in a stable way, and those leaving care are given the very best life chances in education and employment.”

Alternative delivery models


Other projects awarded funding are: the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and NHS England’s Child House; Newham’s NewDay project; Northamptonshire County Council’s alternative delivery model; Shared Lives Plus; The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird project; Hertfordshire’s Family Safeguarding model; Catch22 and Southwark council’s Care Leavers’ Partnership; Slough’s Transformation Programme; and Hackney’s project on contextual safeguarding theory.

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