At a recent Children Scrutiny Meeting, Knowsley Council’s Early Help and Children’s Social Care Team reported on the success of the Council’s Edge of Care offer, with positive progress being made across a number of areas.
The Edge of Care Offer is made up of a range of specialist services that supports families to enable children to remain at home, where it safe to do so and would achieve better outcomes than if the child was to become cared for. This includes assisting families to manage complex issues such as challenging behaviour.
Shield is a multi-agency team designed to protect children at risk of sexual and criminal exploitation, trafficking, and missing from home or care.
The service was granted permanent funding following a three-year evaluation that highlighted the positive impact the service had on reducing risks for children and supporting victims.
Since 2020-2021, the service has seen a reduction of 41% in missing episodes of children with Knowsley’s missing figures lower than those of neighbouring boroughs. Following a missing episode, more children are also engaging with the service with a total of 86% accepting a return interview, which enables the service to better understand the reasons behind the child going missing and improve future safeguarding.
There have also been reductions in the number of Child Sexual Exploitation and Child Criminal Exploitation referrals.
Family Group Conference
Family Group Conferences (FGC) are professionally facilitated meetings of the family network which enable families to devise a support plan to resolve issues that have resulted in social work intervention.
The programme is designed to empower the family to make their own decisions and find positive outcomes for all.
Between 2022 and 2023, 32 children have taken part in an FGC with three returning to their parents care, one transitioning back home, 27 remaining with their parents or family carers, and one remaining in long-term foster care.
Following evaluation in 2022, the service had its funding made permanent this year.
Multi-Systemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST-CAN)
MST-CAN is an intensive therapeutic intervention for families where there is a risk of parental abuse or neglect. The aim of the service is to keep children safely at home through targeting interventions, with three weekly meetings with a therapist and access to a 24/7 call support service.
The programme lasts for six to nine months and focuses on taking a strength-based, collaborative approach to build skills and increase the caregivers’ responsibility and enable to parent safely.
Over the past year 85% of children referred into the service have remained living safely at home. Due to the success of the service, it was granted permanent funding in 2022.
Oasis is a short breaks service which offers accommodation for two children from Friday to Monday. The service aims to support people to remain living with their families by preventing relationship breakdown.
As part of the offer, young people and their families/carers receive individual programs of support and solution-focused strategies to help them manage behaviours.
Since August 2022, Oasis has supported 29 young people, their families and carers.
Safe Families is a commissioned service which provides a volunteer-led family support and respite offer. The aim is to provide targeted support vulnerable families and prevent children becoming cared for . Volunteers provide three key services:
- Hosting for children in their home
- Resource and practical support
It is anticipated that up to 50 families will be supported per year.
Cllr Margaret Harvey, Knowsley Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “As a Council we have statutory duty to safeguard children, but it is always the last resort for us to take a child into care.
“It is clear from this report that the Edge of Care offer is providing effective services that deliver positive outcomes for children and families, and reduces the number of children who become looked after in Knowsley.”
You can read the full paper here.