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Successful launch of new service helping to get the right support to families first time

07 March 2019

A new service set up to improve how agencies in Norfolk work together to keep children safe is reporting early success.

Norfolk County Council created the new Children’s Advice and Duty Service (CADS) to help ensure that all children are getting the right support, as soon as safeguarding concerns are raised.

By ending written referrals and introducing a phone consultation between experienced social workers and other professionals, support can get to families earlier and the council can reduce unnecessary social work assessments and focus on children at greatest risk.

A three-month review of the service has found that since launching, there has been:

  • A 53% increase in telephone calls and conversations
  • A reduction in assessments of 20% 
  • A more than doubling of assessments that now go on to require a social work service
  • An 87% positive response rate from partner agency surveys and regular reporting of a much improved experience from those raising concerns

Cllr Stuart Dark, Chairman of the Children’s Services Committee at Norfolk County Council, said: “The launch of CADS in Norfolk has been among the most successful nationally.

“It’s part of our £12m transformation programme in Children’s Services, aimed at getting the right help to families as early as possible.

“By reducing unnecessary assessments, we’re making sure that social workers can help the children and families that need us the most and getting alternative early help available to those who don’t need a social worker.”

Social workers in CADS provide advice and support to other professionals who are worried about a child, talking through the risks and strengths within families and agreeing together who is best placed to meet the child’s needs.

Norfolk County Council worked with national expert Professor David Thorpe to develop the new service.

Prof Thorpe has worked successfully with other high-performing councils in England, where both unnecessary assessments have reduced and local partners work together more successfully to meet the needs of children.

An update on CADS will be presented to members of the Children’s Services Committee at Norfolk County Council on Tuesday, 12 March.

Members of the public who have concerns about the safety of a child should continue to call the same number: 0344 800 8020. If it as emergency, dial 999.

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