The Centre for Family Safeguarding Practice was established in 2019, with the aim of becoming a centre of excellence to promote Hertfordshire County Council’s highly effective model for social work practice. We are a small team with experience of implementing Family Safeguarding in a range of authorities. We have developed expertise and many training, financial, and mentoring materials to help local authorities and their partnerships to adopt our model, which is aimed at changing how we ‘do’ child protection in England, so that we keep many more children safely in their families.
Hertfordshire County Council designed and put into practice our vision for Family Safeguarding in 2015, following a successful bid to the Department for Education’s (DfE) Innovation Programme.
We set out to meet the objectives of the Children Act 1989. We knew that to keep more children safely in their families, we had to change our attitudes to families, to create a culture based on seeing every family as deserving of help and support, not people deliberately setting out to harm their children. We wanted staff to become skilled at creating change in families, not experts in operating processes. To provide the help families needed to improve the health and development of their children, we created multi-disciplinary teams from a partnership of statutory services so we could provide instant access to support for parent’s mental health, substance misuse and domestic abuse challenges. We knew we needed to reduce bureaucracy, to create time for practitioners to spend more time with families and to make our work/recording of it, more purposeful.
The incredibly successful outcomes from the changes we made in our first year were evidenced in an evaluation report commissioned by the DfE and published in 2017. When that same year the DfE opened bids for the wave 2 Innovation Programme, the DfE provided funding to extend the evidence base by testing whether the model could work successfully in four very different authorities. The DfE published the evaluation of this programme in 2020 and again, the model produced robust evidence of change, was liked by families and practitioners and occasioned significant cost savings for local authorities.
In 2019,the DfE decided to test in depth the outcomes from the three most successful innovations via the Strengthening Families, Protecting Children Programme, by evaluating the adoption by 18 local authorities of No Wrong Door, Family Valued or Family Safeguarding.
The Centre for Family Safeguarding Practice was created to support this work and it is funded by grants from the Department for Education via the Strengthening Families Protecting Children Programme and also as a Sector Led Improvement Partner.
We provide advice, guidance and consultation to local authorities wanting to adopt the Family Safeguarding model.