Posted: Thursday 24th January 2019
Hertfordshire County Council is committed to delivering outstanding services which improve outcomes for our children, young people and their families and we work hard to continuously improve the quality of services provided. Our vision for Hertfordshire is to give every child, young person and their family the opportunity to live happy and fulfilling lives. Our children’s services are under increasing pressure and we are continually searching for new and innovative ways to deliver services to our communities to ensure we provide the best services we can with the funding we have available.
A radical overhaul of Hertfordshire’s child protection service has resulted in more families staying together and significant savings for the county council. For the first time in social care history, county-wide multi-disciplinary Family Safeguarding Teams have been realised. The Family Safeguarding project allows adult specialists and social workers to focus on direct, relationship-based therapeutic work. The aim is to transform the family life of children at the highest risk in the Hertfordshire community.
An evaluation report by University of Bedfordshire researchers showed that police domestic abuse call outs reduced by 66 per cent, A&E visits by 53 per cent and reduced the number of children on child protection plans by 50 per cent. The total number of care cases in court has also reduced by 37 per cent. Hertfordshire County Council is now supporting four other local authorities: Luton Borough Council, Peterborough City Council, Bracknell Forest Council and West Berkshire Council, to redesign their services and extend the evidence base of this revolutionary child protection model.
Our Family Safeguarding team took part in the very first exhibition in Parliament as part of the LGA’s Bright Futures Campaign earlier this year. The exhibition brought to life the importance of children’s services and highlighted the successes of early intervention and prevention programmes that councils across England are delivering to support children and young people.
We are reorganising our Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) bases in Hertfordshire with no changes to the number of children currently supported or the level of support. The county council published a statutory notice in June outlining the proposals to re-organise SpLD ‘bases’ to streamline the service to reassure those residents concerned about these proposed changes. No child will be adversely affected by the changes and service provision will stay the same.
We are doing everything possible to maximise support at a time when High Needs Block funding for Special Educational Needs is under a lot of pressure. This is not a cost saving exercise but a proposal to make the whole system for children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) more effective without impacting on the support available for children who need it.
Hertfordshire’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Transformation conference in May welcomed Jonny Benjamin, award-winning mental health campaigner as guest speaker. There were presentations about the preventative work going on in schools, community peri-natal mental health and eating disorders. There was powerful input from parents and young people who had experienced mental health challenges and their views on what had helped and worked for them. It confirms the importance of our approach to co-produce and develop our services with children, young people and families; working together from design to delivery, sharing strategic decision making about policies as well as decisions about the best way to deliver services.