Hackney has seen a rise in adolescent entrants to care over the last five years, with 25% of entrants to care from this cohort in 2014. Adolescents are most likely to have multiple placement moves and to be flagged as at risk of child sexual exploitation, gang involvement and criminal activity. Barriers to supporting edge of care adolescents in Hackney include a lack of high-quality residential placements; negative influences, such as criminal networks; statutory processes and timescales that do not provide the space for tailored responses for individual families; and insufficient foster care capacity.
The Family Learning Intervention Programme (FLIP) is an innovative model for the delivery of edge of care interventions which focuses on working with families to strengthen their long-term resilience, raise aspiration, and empower and enable parents to parent effectively.
The project initially had three components: tailored interventions in a residential ‘home away from home’ for families and children on the edge of care; preventative work with younger children at risk of coming into care; and building the capacity of foster carers to meet the needs of adolescents.
Due to significant barriers in moving towards full implementation, throughout the evaluation period, FLIP operated as an interim model, based in temporary residential settings.
The DfE-funded independent evaluation published in 2017 found that it was still too early to reach any firm conclusions regarding the effectiveness of FLIP. However, the evidence in this evaluation of the interim FLIP model shows that: a) adequate referral, assessment and planning procedures have been established; (b) staff and stakeholders identified a need for more ongoing support to be provided to families following the residential intervention; (c) FLIP has been communicating effectively with and engaging practitioners; and (d) staff and practitioners were largely positive about the governance and leadership of FLIP.