Children who have experienced abuse and neglect are at a higher risk of mental health problems and other poor outcomes throughout their lives. Very young children are particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect and the impact on their development can be profound.
The New Orleans Intervention Model provides intensive assessment of and intervention for young children up to the age of five in foster care due to abuse or neglect, their parents and foster carers.
A multidisciplinary team, the London Infant and Family Team (LIFT), works with children and families over a 9-15 month period. The team provides a holistic service, working within the statutory social care and family court systems to ensure the highest quality interventions are provided and permanence decisions reflect the best evidence about child, family and relationship functioning.
The project succeeded in establishing the LIFT service and negotiated with the judiciary on inclusion criteria for the service. The RCT commenced in October 2017.
The qualitative DfE-funded independent evaluation that sat alongside the RCT and published in 2017 found that it was a significant achievement to establish the LIFT service, not least in negotiating agreement with the judiciary about the inclusion criteria for being offered the service and that, in cases where treatment was indicated, introducing flexibility about the requirement to adhere to the Public Law Outline timescales of a final decision by 26 weeks to enable a treatment plan to be undertaken in addition to the assessment.
The LIFT service was initially not fully staffed, in particular the consultant psychologist and psychiatrist were appointed after other team members because it took longer to recruit and appoint them. This led to an early lack of leadership.
LIFT members were positive about the training and preparation they received and the multidisciplinary team approach.LIFT received few referrals initially. Between January 2016 and January 2017 there were 21 appropriate referrals of looked after children in Croydon up to the age of 5. Most cases were closed early for a variety of reasons.