Proposals that would smooth a move to new arrangements for the County Council’s contribution to support for struggling families were approved today.
Following a public consultation, Cabinet endorsed a revised approach to changes in the part of the Council’s getset Service that contributes to the support available to families with additional needs, known as level 2 services.
This support will continue for another 12 months, with the existing staff focusing on delivering group sessions and key parenting programmes for families that need a little extra help – usually short-term – to tackle a problem and get back on track. They will also follow through with all the families currently receiving one-to-one support at this level.
Over the next 12 months the Council will work with key partners such as health, police, district councils and the voluntary sector to improve the wider availability of support at this level for families in this position.
“Our getset support is only one part of a far bigger picture of early help, and as financial realities change we have to change the way we do things,” said Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children and Families.
“We also have to listen, and clearly there’s a need for a more gradual transition. What we have agreed gives a breathing space to work with partners and the community sector and rethink our joint approach to early help, bringing prevention to the forefront.”
Cabinet backed the proposed £200,000 fund to invest in community groups so they can deliver support, with the Council helping them access other sources of funding. Advice for children and families, and practitioners who work with families, will also be improved, and Cabinet committed to finding one-off funding of £124,000 to enable the development of an electronic early help module for partners, subject to a submission of a robust business case.
Support provided by other organisations for families with additional needs will continue unaffected, as will the Council’s support for families with more serious issues and challenges, the support from the Council’s Children with Disabilities Team and its Special Education Needs and Disabilities Team and the Community Adolescent Team.
An eight-week consultation on proposals to end the getset Service’s contribution to Level 2 services closed at the end of December 2018, with more than 700 people sharing their views. Many of them raised concerns about the potential impact of the proposed immediate ending of support.
Cllr Nicholson said: “Buildings-based, structured support is not the best approach and the biggest impact comes through schools and support in the community. Over the next 12 months we believe we can encourage and help others, particularly in the voluntary sector and in communities, to deliver this kind of support. It’s working in other parts of the country and can be encouraged and nurtured into an effective and sustainable alternative.
“We will continue to invest in our support for families with more complex needs, and play our part in stimulating and coordinating the activities and support available from the Council and our external partners.”
The consultation on the original proposals to end the getset Service’s contribution to support for families with additional needs closed on 31 December. Full details of those original proposals can be found on the Council’s website www.somerset.gov.uk/getsetconsultation
Details of the revised proposals can be found here http://democracy.somerset.gov.uk/documents/s9453/2019%2001%2025%20Scrutiny%20Report%20re%20CAF14b%20getset%20public%20consultation%20v2.0.pdf