Right Balance for Families is a new approach to social work for children aged 10 to 13 who are already receiving support from social care. The work is being undertaken by social workers in partnership with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, Catch22 and Camden Learning. The project funding makes it possible for us to provide the same level of multi-agency support for this group of children as that currently in place for children in care. We are testing a preventative model to stop problems escalating in the teenage years or identify a need for care earlier to improve long-term outcomes for these children.
We are targeting 10 to 13-year-old children who are a ’child in need‘ with our project because we want to reduce re-referrals for this group as these could be missed opportunities. The transition from primary to secondary school is also an important time, and can be difficult for some children, so additional support may be beneficial. Long-term neglect is recognised as being harmful for children and the Right Balance approach is designed to mitigate this with an opportunity for early intervention to prevent harm during the significant changes that happen to children in adolescence.
The educational support within our innovation is based upon the ‘virtual school’ methodology. This develops a partnership between the child, their family, teachers and social workers creating a new way of working which maximises the benefit of education and transforms not only educational outcomes, but creates improvements in family stability and emotional wellbeing.
As part of our work we are addressing the systemic barriers to cross-agency working extending our existing Camden Model of Social Work to the wider multi-agency network through systemic reflective groups, where all professionals involved with the family get an opportunity to explore the family’s dilemmas with mentoring from experienced clinicians who can encourage the development of shared language and plans.
Within the target cohort our innovation will improve parent-child relationships, evidenced by reduced crisis presentations and repeat referrals and improvements in family functioning. For individual children we aim to achieve both improved school attendance and educational rate of progress as well as improvements in emotional wellbeing so reducing risk factors in adolescence.
You can learn more about Right Balance for Families at Camden Children’s safeguarding & Social Work Portal
Marianne Todd, Project Lead
Behavioural Insight Team
Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust, Catch 22