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New service to reduce demand on children’s social care and keep children safe

04 July 2018

Assessments undertaken by children’s social care services could reduce by as much as a third, as Norfolk County Council looks to develop a new service to keep children safe and reduce pressures on social workers.

Members of Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services Committee will meet on Tuesday, 10 July and will hear about a proposal to develop a new approach to dealing with child safeguarding calls.

It would mean the creation of a new team of senior social workers, who would manage a dedicated consultation line, providing advice and support to other professionals and asking key questions about the risks and strengths within families.  They would then agree together who is best placed to meet the needs of a child.

Elsewhere the approach has been successful in reducing unnecessary assessments and giving social workers more time to work with the families that really need their help, ensuring children receive the right service first time.

Cllr Penny Carpenter, Chairman of the Children’s Services Committee at Norfolk County Council, said:  “We want our social workers to be spending their time working with families where they can make the greatest difference, supporting children to stay at home, wherever that is safe.

“At the moment we are doing too many unnecessary assessments that do not lead to a social work service, taking up valuable time and resources.  This new approach, which has worked in other parts of the country, will help us to keep children safe by giving social workers more time to work with those families where children are at real risk.”

Norfolk County Council has been working with national expert Professor David Thorpe to develop the new approach.

Prof Thorpe has worked successfully with other high-performing councils in England, where assessments and the numbers of children in care have reduced.

Norfolk’s partnership work at the “front door”, including access to early help services and Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) would continue to operate, with MASH undertaking vital cross agency checks for those children most at risk of harm.

The number of experienced social workers dealing with initial contacts and calls will increase significantly to ensure professionals can get straight through and have a named social worker throughout the referral process.

Elsewhere in the country partner agencies have supported the approach because they have welcomed the support and advice of a senior social worker at the outset.  Moving to telephone conversations and away from written referrals means social workers can find out all the information they need early on, and families receive the help they need earlier.

The new service will launch in the autumn and be based at County Hall.

Members of the public who have concerns about the safety of a child can continue to call the same number - 0344 800 8020.

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