Active Agents for Change aims to address the pressure that social workers have come under increasing their ability to work directly with families and intervene effectively.
The model focuses on changes to social work practice, increased capacity for direct work with families, new forms of support for children in need and young people on the edge of care, better support for children at risk of child sexual exploitation and new forms of training and development.
Highly skilled administrators (or “PAs”) were deployed to support social workers. Family Intervention Teams (FIT) including specialist domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health practitioners worked to improve the quality of direct work with families. Finally, a network of volunteers including family support workers and youth mentors were recruited, trained and matched to support work with vulnerable children and families. Dedicated workers were recruited to deliver interventions to families where a young person was at risk of coming into care within the ‘Edge’ project.
As of February 2020, PA’s have been mainstreamed and expanded meaning all Social Workers now have access to a PA. The Willow Team has been mainstreamed and expanded its reach to support children and young people experiencing, or at risk of, a number of types of exploitation, including County Lines. The prinicples piloted in the edge of care project have been developed further and shaped the development of further transformation and creation of dedicated and intensive support to enable more children and young people to stay safely at home. The Volunteer scheme has become a core service with 150 volunteers working with children and their families, delivering 2000 hours of interventions a year. This enables volunteers to continue to support families after their social care intervention has ceased. Specialist Workers continue to be co-located within social care as well as links being developed with community based service providers. The learning from the projects has been taken forward into our work as a Partner in Practice and further supported both our continued transformation work and sector led work.
The DfE-funded independent evaluation published in 2017 found that the time social workers spend with families increased from from 34% to 58%. The FIT pilot has led to significantly improved levels of initial engagement of families with support for toxic trio issues from 29% to 70% in Hampshire and 87% in Isle of Wight.