Early help scheme for families to continue

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Schools are to help fund an early intervention programme for families in difficulty in Liverpool.

The ‘School Family Support Service’ began work in 2014, and assists where there are issues affecting a child’s wellbeing, educational attendance and attainment, but which are not serious enough to meet the threshold for social work intervention.

The 22-strong team of support workers have provided support for 1,450 families to date, including improving parenting, helping strengthen family life and relieving pressures.

Triggers for support include children with poor attendance or exclusions at school, or issues with adolescent behaviour and parenting.

The scheme has so far been funded entirely through the Liverpool Families Programme which is paid for by a Government grant. A move towards a more sustainable model where schools contribute by paying for services they receive has been planned since the outset.

So far, 63 schools have expressed an interest in paying for an initial 12 month period from September 2017, meaning they would contribute around half (£360k) of the £773k cost of the service.

Councillor Barry Kushner, Cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “The School Family Support Service is widely recognised as a real success story, helping build relationships between families, schools and social care and health services to tackle problems before they become crises.

“Our schools know their children and their families extremely well and teachers are best placed to spot when something is wrong at home and work with us to fix it, which brings benefits for everyone involved. The fact they are willing to help pay for it shows they value the work of the service.

“It is vital we make sure our children get the possible start in life, and it makes far more sense to support families in their hour of need, rather than letting issues grow or get out of control.”

In 2014/15, a sample of families demonstrated an increase in school attendance and an 89 percent success rate in improving behaviour.

The report recommending the move to the so-called ‘traded service’ will be considered by the Cabinet on Friday 21 July.