A Family Safe-guarding Model to Protect Vulnerable Children
There is an urgent need to reduce the number of children being taken into care in Oxfordshire and to address this Oxfordshire County Council is implementing a large, ambitious change to the current system of safeguarding children by focussing on the needs of the whole family. This new model is called 'family solutions plus'. This project supports the organisations running this new model by designing a rigorous evaluation of how effective the safeguarding change is and how well it achieves what the system aims to do.
Part of our Improving Health and Social Care research theme
There has been a significant increase in the number of children needing to be looked after across the country since 2013. This same trend has been seen in Oxfordshire with the number of children being cared for rising from 30 per 100,000 in 2013 to 48 per 100,000 in 2018.
Although the current system of safeguarding children is good at managing demand it does not address the root cause of the problem. Family Safeguarding was developed by Hertfordshire County Council in 2015, where it has delivered a radical impact in improving outcomes for children and their families by supporting the needs of the whole family with issues such as substances misuse, mental health and domestic abuse.
Oxfordshire County Council are using this as a basis for developing their own version of this safeguarding model. They will work in partnership with the people who use the services, and those who deliver them, to create a model that also takes into account the specific local need, in particular housing.
In collaboration with Oxfordshire County Council, we are designing the evaluation of the new Family Safeguarding model which aims to test the change of the system in children’s social care services and the impact of this on other key safeguarding areas and the linked adult services, such as mental health, substance abuse and domestic violence.
Evaluation aims to capture potential benefits, including savings or costs avoided by agencies, and understand if the objectives of the safeguarding were met according to the experience of children, parents/carers and practitioners.
How we are involving patients and the public
Some of the families involved with Children Safeguarding Services have worked with the partners on this project through their membership on the co-production board.
This Board have reviewed the evaluation plans and provided feedback, including advice on the measurement of outcomes. We have interviewed ten families to help us develop our evaluation plan and the findings from these interviews have been reviewed by the co-production board and used to support follow up actions.
The PPI Champion for the ARC Community Health and Social Care theme has advised us on the public involvement in this project by connecting us with community groups, who might be affected by family safeguarding issues, and providing feedback on our evaluation methodology.
How we are planning to implement the research outputs
This work is being done in partnership with Oxford County Council and each stage of the Family Safeguarding implementation and the evaluation has been a co-production between Oxfordshire County Council, the researchers and the other partners involved in delivering the model including Thames Valley Police, Oxford Health and Cherwell District Housing Services.
A Partnership Board has been set up for this purpose and we have mutual agreements for data sharing in place between the different organisations so that the impact of the new model can be measured and assessed, not just within Children Safeguarding Services but across all related organisations.
Emeritus Professor of Public Health and Primary Care
- Design an evaluation, in collaboration with Oxfordshire County Council and partners which will capture the effects from changing the current system of safeguarding children to the Family Safeguarding model.
Capturing the impact of the system change by the difference in agreed, measurable outcomes at all stages of the system implementation - before implementation, during and after.
Using the evaluation to measure potential benefits and cost savings.
- Understand if the objectives of the family safeguarding intervention have been met according to the experience of the children, parents, carers and practitioners who use the service.