Sharing best practice on child protection and leadership with Monserrat

Published: 23 Aug 2018

Hertfordshire County Council’s award-winning Safeguarding Team has been hand-picked by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to share their knowledge and expertise on child protection with visitors from Monserrat.


The council was selected as one of only three councils in the UK to host the delegates from the Caribbean island recently (Wednesday 14 August). The visit was arranged by the FCO as part of its Child Safeguarding Unit Programme to support Overseas Territory governments.


Monserrat has recently set up its Child Safeguarding Board and the visitors included its Chair plus the island’s Director of Social Services.


With an emphasis on transformational leadership in co-ordinating a holistic approach to child safeguarding systems, the three visitors learned about Hertfordshire’s successful Family Safeguarding initiative which provides help for parents to tackle the domestic abuse, mental health and substance misuse issues from within the child protection and children in need services. The 21 multi-disciplinary teams use motivational practice to better engage families and this has proved a highly successful combination.


The ground-breaking initiative, set up initially with funding and support from the government’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme, has reduced the number of children on child protection plans by 50%. It has also reduced police domestic abuse call outs by 66% and A&E visits by 53%.  Family Safeguarding has been adopted by 4 other English local authorities with others firmly considering the benefits it can offer.


The aim of the visit from Monserrat was to provide shared learning opportunities and to start a dialogue with a view to establishing longer term peer-to-peer support on the subjects of transformational leadership and driving improvements to the child safeguarding agenda.


Cllr Teresa Heritage, Cabinet member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “Hertfordshire’s Family Safeguarding’s achievements, commitment and enlightened approach were recognised in the 2017 Guardian Public Service Awards as winner of the Care category and overall winner.


“Our new approach to working effectively with families under pressure empowers social workers to give parents the opportunity to think about what they want to change in their lives. It also brought about significant savings, reductions in staff sickness rates and turnover with an impact on other social issues such as domestic abuse.


“It is very gratifying that this has also been noted by the FCO. Monserrat were extremely interested in our model and we hope that sharing our fresh thinking and leadership will potentially lead to significant benefits for children and families, not just in England but in other parts of the globe.” 


Caption: Left to right – Tendai Murowe Service Manager HCC, Sarita Francis Safeguarding Board Monserrat, with Christian Margetts FCO, Cecilia Illeyemi Service Manager HCC, Teresena Fergus Director of Children’s Services Montserrat and Sue Williams Director of Family Safeguarding Children's Services