The Looked After Children Transformation Programme (2013-18) was successful in meeting its aim to shift the balance of care from high cost secure, residential and purchased foster care to early intervention, increased numbers supported with parents and extended family and Edinburgh Council foster carers.
This was done through investment in: strengthening universal Early Years services, parenting support programmes, Prepare, Family Group Decision Making (described below), Integrated Family and Household Support service (described above), Vulnerable Babies project, Multi Systemic Therapies and an increase in-house foster care capacity. These interventions were supported by focused scrutiny of practice through practice evaluation sessions.
The initiative was successful, achieving annual savings of over £3.7M by 2018, a reduction in the overall number of looked after children and an increase in kinship care (note that subsequent challenges – including the arrival of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, which have to be accommodated – are being addressed through a second programme).
Details of two of the interventions noted above are:
- Prepare Team is a multiagency specialist team that works with approximately 25-35 pregnant women a year with significant substance misuse issues who are not engaging with mainstream services, it is funded by NHS Lothian, EADP (Edinburgh Alcohol and Drug Partnership) and the City of Edinburgh Council.
- Family Group Decision Making is a collaborative engagement with families to develop the broadest supportive network and develop and action plan, used in a large number of sites, UK and beyond; evidence from evaluation - “not a magic bullet” but good practice and potentially better outcomes for the child.