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Compass Service

Project start date: February 2015

We were awarded £1.05m to develop a bespoke multidisciplinary therapeutic service for children and families assessed as Edge of Care and Looked after Children. This service works with the system, including the family, to ensure a step down approach to the level of care and lasting change.

Project Summary


Young children brought up in care are at risk of poor outcomes; with higher rates of unemployment, criminal activity and poor education attainment, compared to those outside of the care system. Furthermore, young people can fall between the gaps of services which may escalate behaviour and need, such as poor school attendance, criminality, mental health challenges, and crisis management.


The innovation comprised of developing the Compass Outreach Service (COS), the Virtual Residential School (VRS), and the Family Development Unit. This enabled an integrated approach between health, social care and families to receive individualised assessments and interventions designed around their needs. The COS is a therapeutic integrated approach and wrap-around support service. The VRS approach was based on the development of the social care workforce. It provided a secure base for staff and carers to offer a therapeutic environment for pupils and their families. Alongside this, the Outreach Service provided therapeutic and intensive family support services to families with children identified as Edge of Care or Looked After.  Lastly, the Family Development Unit located staff from across health, social care and education within one service, allowing multi-agency assessments of complex families; reducing the need for expert psychological assessments or out of county residential assessments in care proceedings.

Find out more

Project contact details

Nicki Bramford, Operations Manager

Project evaluators

Anna Freud Centre

York Consultancy

Project partners

Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation (NHS) Trust

Norfolk County Council

The Benjamin Foundation

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