Family Safeguarding Team launches in Somerset

A new way to support children and families in Somerset is launching from today with the aim of strengthening families to overcome their issues and reducing the number of children needing to come into care.

Somerset County Council, in partnership with The YOU Trust and the Somerset Drug and Alcohol Service (SDAS), has created the ‘Family Safeguarding Team’ – a new way of working that will transform how support is given to children and families in the county.

Councillor Frances Nicholson, Lead Member for Children’s Services at Somerset County Council, said: “As part of the Council’s vision of improving lives, workers in adult mental health and substance misuse and in children’s social care will work together in multi-disciplinary teams on family issues such as problematic substance use and domestic abuse.

“Children and young people in Somerset have told us very clearly that they want us to ‘help their parents’.  Setting up the new Family Safeguarding teams to help parents make changes in their own behaviour to improve their children’s lives, is our response.  This way of working has been successful in other areas and I am delighted that we are adopting it here.

“All agencies acting in partnership together is the best way to help children and families, so I am really pleased to welcome two expert organisations in the YOU Trust and Turning Point, who run SDAS. We are delighted to be working with them to deliver this new service.”

Dawn Holmes, Young Persons and Families Team Manager at SDAS, said: “By working alongside Somerset County Council’s Children’s Services Team, our Family Safeguarding Recovery Workers can support parents with problematic use of alcohol or other drugs, while ensuring the safety of their children. By helping parents make changes and achieve their goals we can give them the skills to live and parent safely. If children can stay with their family, it’s much better for everyone.”

Tonia Redvers, Quality and Operations Director at YOU, said: “We firmly believe that working with the whole family is always the right way of working together.  This way we all understand the issues some families face on a daily basis much better, and that means we can help people more effectively to purposefully change their parenting and support their children to thrive.  Together, we will understand that choices and behaviours are parenting decisions and help parents and others to understand the impact of those parenting decisions.

“We at YOU First (YOU’s domestic and sexual violence team) are thrilled to be part of a multi-agency team who are committed to the wellbeing of families in Somerset.”

A YouTube video has been created to explain the approach, which can be viewed here:

The first group of practitioners have started working with Somerset County Council today (26 October), enabling the start of the Family Safeguarding Team approach.