In recent years, there has been increased concern about the extent and impact of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation, and the failure of public services to protect children and young people. Across South Yorkshire, referrals related to CSE have been increasing year on year for over a decade.
To address this issue we set up a partnership (South Yorkshire Empower and Protect) which included Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham Local Authorities and Doncaster Children’s Services Trust. We worked with VCS partner Catch 22 to enable young people experiencing or at high risk of sexual exploitation to remain safely at home, or in stable foster care in South Yorkshire, rather than being placed in out-of-area or secure accommodation.
For young people already in care, this involved recruitment and training of specialist foster carers, intensive support and therapeutic input to help sustain placements. For young people living at home, we worked with family members to increase their understanding of CSE, ability to manage risks and provide appropriate care. We worked directly with families, carers, children and young people while at the same time skilling up other professionals to do this work, through modelling, supervision and training. With this workforce development element, we aimed to increase reflective social-work practice based upon relationships rather than process.
This was a very ambitious project and our impact was limited by factors such as the challenge of recruiting foster carers for very complex adolescents and difficulties in fully engaging social workers and managers. We were not sure if there would definitely be cost benefits and we ultimately decided not to continue the project collaboratively beyond March 2017.
Please contact the local authority for further detail
University of Bedfordshire International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence & Trafficking, NatCen Social Research
Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham LAs and Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, Catch22