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Children’s services award commendation

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A council project has been commended at this year’s MJ Awards, the high-profile awards for local government.

Dudley Council has been commended in the Innovation in Children’s Services category for its multi-agency action work run through Dudley’s five family centres.

The centres host a range of diverse children’s support services who facilitate and engage support for families with the greatest levels of need, intervening and supporting early on to help prevent issues escalating to statutory services.

Family Centre staff work pro-actively with families, explaining how they can support them early on before things become too overwhelming, developing trust and encouraging families to allow the centre to share their information with partner agencies to get them the assistance they need. This might be with the community and voluntary sector, early years, further education providers, housing, health visitors, police, schools, school nurses or any other relevant team.

The aim of this process ensures that each family gets a bespoke package of support delivered by a lead practitioner who is most suited to the family’s needs. These practitioners in turn are supported by a team of early help enablers and individual early help social workers.

Councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member for children and young people said:

I’m so proud of the team for getting this far. Together with our partners, we’ve developed this unique way of working which directly benefits some of our most vulnerable children and families.
Our staff have worked hard to gain the trust of families attending our centres to show the range of support they can get early on, before things escalate. It might be as simple as a referral to the school nurse, help with the housing or college applications or support with behavioural issues at home which stops things escalating.
We want to work with our families to empower them and allow them to help their children make the most of every opportunity available to grow into a happier, safer, more positive future

In 2016, the average number of Early Help Assessments was 169 over a six month period. Throughout 2019, Dudley’s Multi-Agency Action Meetings now ensure that there are over 200 Early Help Assessments commenced each month, a massive leap in the number of families being helped.

The results will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on October.

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