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Family Safeguarding

Project start date: December 2014

We (Hertfordshire) were awarded £4.8m to redesign our child protection services to high risk families by bringing together children’s social workers with specialists in adult mental health, domestic abuse and substance misuse. Our integrated support has helped to reduce the numbers of children coming into care and costs across public services.

Project Summary


The specialisation of adults and children’s care services has resulted in some families not being supported as well as they should be, leading to higher levels of child protection referrals and more children coming into the care system.

The Family Safeguarding Partnership is part of a whole-system change approach that includes the county council, Clinical Commissioning Groups, police, probation, recovery service and the mental health trust to tackle the impact of the toxic trio on children’s lives. Adult specialists – including domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health workers – operate alongside children’s specialists under a unified management structure. Teams share motivational interviewing as the core practice, and improved information sharing is enabled at strategic and operational levels.

In the first twelve months of the programme, 280 staff worked with adults and children in 940 families, 44% of which were experiencing domestic abuse. The programme has seen reductions in the number of children in need and child protection cases, and a reduction of more than half in days spent in care.

Family Safeguarding saved an estimated £2.6m for Children’s Services in the first year, with additional estimated savings of £107,000 to the police, due primarily to decreased incidents of domestic abuse and £200,000 to the NHS due to a 53% reduction in emergency admissions.

We are now expanding our virtual school to children in need and child protection cases, and bringing CAMHS into the Family Safeguarding partnership. In addition, we are supporting Luton, Peterborough, Bracknell Forest and West Berkshire to see whether Hertfordshire’s outcomes can be replicated.

Find out more

Project contact details

Sue Williams
Director of Family Safeguarding

Project evaluators

Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care, University of Bedfordshire

Project partners

Hertfordshire County Council, Hertfordshire Constabulary, East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Hertfordshire Valley Clinical Commissioning Group, Probation Service, Bench Rehabilitation Company, Change, Grow, Live substance misuse service, Hertfordshire Partnership University Trust mental health providers, the Police and Crime Commissioner.



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