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Whilst we do see ourselves as one big team – within this we have smaller sub teams who work very closely together and the support we have for each other is a huge part of who we are and helps us do what we do.
We do try to foster a good team spirit here and this is reflected in people choosing to undertake activities together outside of work too. Our employees really care and go above and beyond to try to make sure that children and families in our local area are well supported.
Our Young people’s views are valued and are central to shaping and influencing services in Blackburn with Darwen.
“It’s important we get involved because adults don’t know how we feel or what we need, they just think they do!” (Young Person, Blackburn with Darwen)
“Participation enables young people to come together and make decisions that have a positive influence, by using their energy and passion to change the world for a better place”
(BwD Voice Group, March 2020)
All Children and Young people have the right to have their views, wishes and feelings taken into account, when decisions are being taken about their life. These decisions could be about their family, school or life in the community. This right is protected under Article 12 in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This has been adopted into United Kingdom legislation including the Children’s Act 2004, and all services and agencies have a duty to comply with this right.
Looked after Children and Care Leavers are supported to participate in forums ie. ‘Voice’ for Children in Care and Leaving Care Forum for Care Leavers. Both forums provide our young people with an opportunity to inform the Local Authority of what is working well, what we could do better and how they as service users would like to be involved in the development of key services.
In addition, young people support with the recruitment and selection of key personnel. A representative from the Looked After community is also a member of the Corporate Parenting Specialist Advisory Group and the Corporate Parenting Executive Board. Through these high level decision making bodies, the representative ensures that the community is being supported as fully as possibly by everyone who works in the Local Authority.
See information below on some our teams and what they do:
The Children’s Advice & Duty Service (CADS) is the single point of contact for the Blackburn with Darwen area receiving all safeguarding and children in need enquiries.
In addition to Social Workers the team has involvement from partner agencies such as Engage, Education, Police, Adult Social Care, Health, domestic abuse services, Housing, Probation and Inspire. There are virtual links with the Fire Service, Youth Justice Service and Early Help
All contacts into the Children’s Advice & Duty Service are overseen by Social Workers within the Children’s Advice & Duty Service who undertaken appropriate and proportionate enquiries in order to determine, in conjunction with referrers, and where appropriate, our partners, as to how the family will receive the most appropriate level of support they require.
This could be through the following routes:
The Referral, Assessment and Safeguarding Team (RAST) takes referrals via the Children’s Advice & Duty Service (CADS) which are considered to be level 3 or 4 on the Continuum of Need and Response.
RAST comprises of four social work teams who rotate, with each team spending a week on ‘duty’, undertaking assessments on all children referred in that week. Alongside undertaking duty, RAST social workers manage Child in Need cases and safeguarding cases up to an appropriate transfer point.
The Assessment and Safeguarding Team (AST) comprises of four social work teams who work with children and young people who are subject to a Child Protection Plan or subject to care proceedings. In some circumstances AST also work with Child in Need cases.
Social Workers in the Children in Our Care Team (CIOC) work with children and young people up to their 18th birthday who are placed in our care. This can be with parental consent (s20) or through the making of a Care Order (s31).
Children and young people can be placed at home with a parent, with a relative or friend, in foster care or residential care. The role of the Social Worker involves working closely with the child and relevant others including parents, carers and professionals to make sure that a child or young person has a clear care plan that is informed by the voice of the child.
The aim is to ensure that the child receives appropriate support and services including care, education and health.
Social Workers within this service area enjoy the opportunity of building strong, long-term relationships with children and young people through direct work. Their work helps children to understand their past, manage the present and build a future as a happy and healthy adult. CIOC work towards permanency for all children and young people through discharge of the Care Order, Special Guardianship, agreed long term fostering or adoption. Where a care plan of adoption was agreed, this would move to the Adoption Team at the point of a Placement Order being granted.
The children in our care social work teams hold responsibility for -
Making sure that we are ambitious corporate parents for our Care Leavers is one of Blackburn with Darwen’s top priorities
All Care leavers are assigned a Personal Advisor when they turn 16 and have an allocated care worker post 18. Personal advisors review Pathway Plans (PWP) with young people to ensure that they make a successful transition into adulthood, particularly in relation to financial entitlements, accommodation, health, wellbeing and emotional resilience.
The Leaving Care Team works with young people aged 16 – 24 who have been looked after by us for at least 13 weeks since their 14th birthday and including a day after their 16th birthday.
The team aims to:
The team works in partnership with young people, carers and other statutory and voluntary agencies to achieve these aims
The Engage Team is a multi-agency, co-located team based at Greenbank Police Station, which through effective partnership working seeks to identify, support and protect children and young people in Blackburn with Darwen who are vulnerable to or may be experiencing Child Sexual Exploitation / Child Criminal Exploitation (CSE/ CCE).
The multi-agency team consists of staff from Police, Children’s Social Care, Health and PACE (Parents Against Child Exploitation) – however wider partnership work with Adolescent Services , Children’s Services, The SEEDS, YJS, YPS, Education, Brook, Go2, Housing and other third sector agencies, is integral in the support and intervention that the Engage Team provides. The Engage team YPW has a link worker within BwD high schools offering advice and guidance.
Each child or young person open to the Engage Team has a dedicated Young People’s Worker who is highly specialised in completing Exploitation assessments, delivering trauma-informed 1:1 support and direct work interventions to work towards the child being safer and to ensure that effective risk management is in place.
Parents can also be offered support through the provision of the PACE Parent Liaison Officer, who works in partnership with parents to assist in developing their understanding of CSE/CCE and how to respond effectively, they also support to empower parents to work proactively with other professionals to safeguard their child.
Engage holds responsibility for the Local Authority response to children who get reported Missing from Home or Care within Blackburn with Darwen, including those children who are not currently open to Children’s Services. Once the Police have found a child, the Engage ‘Missing from Home Worker’ offers the child a 1:1 Return Home Interview within 72 hours. This Return Home Interview assists to inform a wider assessment of risk in regards to understanding why a child went missing, early identification of risk, vulnerability or unmet need, and addresses strategies to prevent the child going missing again. Close liaison with Police and Children’s Services also forms part of this response.
CSE/CCE by its nature is a hidden crime, and therefore in addition to specialist CSE/CCE casework and Missing from Home provision, the Engage Team continues to offer and provide awareness raising and training across agencies, professionals and the community to raise awareness and encourage proactivity to assist in the early identification of concerns, risk and vulnerability.
Engage operates to ensure that Blackburn with Darwen is a safe place for children and young people to thrive without being exploited.
Fostering and Adoption Teams are predominately staffed by experienced social workers and managers, the majority of whom have previously worked in child care social work teams. This level of experience enables the service to offer advice and consultation to the rest of children’s services on achieving permanence for Looked after Children and also by ensuring that adopters and foster carers are well supported and trained to manage the complex needs of our children and young people.
The team have a number of responsibilities, including:
The adoption service for Blackburn with Darwen is provided by the Regional Adoption Agency ‘Adoption Now’ which spans Blackburn, Bury, Bolton, Rochdale, Oldham and Tameside.
Support is provided to prospective adoptive families who are considered as part of an assessment and suitability process and to children, who cannot return to their own families, find a home for life.
So that we can ensure that our children and young people leave care at the right time and move to an adoptive family who can care for them and support them through to adulthood
Revive consists of a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Psychologist, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Practitioners and Play Therapist.
The team provides consultation to professionals, carers and families. The team also provides direct therapeutic work, such as Play Therapy, with children and young people and therapeutic work focussed on attachment issues between young people and their carers.
They deliver multi agency training around Attachment, Developmental Trauma, direct work skills, and a parenting course for foster carers. They work closely with East Lancashire Child and Adolescent Service (ELCAS), Children’s Psychological Service, Educational Psychology and the Virtual School.
Through early intervention they aim to;
Independent Review Officers (IROs) work within a clear regulatory framework to ensure there is robust oversight, monitoring and challenge to the Local Authority in its duty to plan for all the children in their care. This includes having a wider overview of the child’s journey whilst, through a process of consultation, the child’s views and wishes are prominent in influencing their plans and improve service delivery. This is achieved through the provision of high support with high challenge in order to ensure there is improvement to the child’s lived experience with evidence of improved outcomes for the child. A strength based approach is undertaken when working with our children and families alongside partners as well as working to the timeframe of the child.
The IROs perform a dual role in chairing child protection conferences working to the same statutory framework, ethos and principles that are in place for our looked after children.
The Review and Quality team ensure that Children’s Social Work activity meets required national and regional standards.
The Practice Development Team (PDT) consists of Practice Development Workers (PDW) and is managed by the Principal Social Worker.
The team aims to promote best practice across the Social Work service through:
A team of Child Support officers and a Social Worker support the needs of children and young people with disabilities and complex health needs. The team work with children who are classed as ‘children in need’ and the Social Worker undertakes statutory responsibility for children with disabilities who become looked after into the care of the Local Authority.
The team have an inclusive approach to children with complex needs and support them to access the same opportunities and experiences as other children.
The children supported by this service can have wide and varied needs, and the team provide support to families such as the arrangement of short breaks, domiciliary care, and outreach so that they can continue to support children in their own homes. The team support children from the ages of 0-18 and there is a commitment towards supporting young people into adulthood through robust transitions planning.
The SEEDS Adolescent support unit (ASU) operates in accordance with statutory requirements, in particular the 1989 and 2004 Children Act’s, Quality Standards and Children’s Home Regulations 2015.
The young people accessing the service have been instrumental in choosing the name ‘The SEEDS’ this is an acronym for: Support, Experiences, Enjoy, Develop & Succeed. The service was previously recognised as the ASU – Adolescent Support Unit.
Young People and their families who are referred to The SEEDS are generally regarded as ‘In need’. The SEEDS provides young people with positive short breaks, outreach and various educational experiences. They have the capacity to offer short breaks to five young people, which includes provision for one emergency. The age range is predominantly 11 to17 years on admission for access to both outreach and short breaks.
An integral part of our approach is to recognise that young people exist as part of a network of relationships involving parents, family and other significant people. Young people and their families/carers who receive support from the SEEDS are involved in the development of the service, The SEEDS empowers young people, families and carers to feel that their opinions are respected, listened to and actioned on strengthening the communication and relationships with both staff and professionals.
For many young people - a positive experience can set them on the path to success, overcoming challenges relating to self and/or family and circumstance. The service supports young people through times of trauma to make better life choices that help support young people’s development and help families to stay together and be happier together.
The ethos and culture of The SEEDS is founded in relationship-based practice, which promotes the development of meaningful relationships between staff and young people. Young people are at the centre of the service.
At its core, the aim of our service is to support the personal and social development of young people through informal education. Its distinctive characteristics include the voluntary engagement of young people, young people’s active involvement in developing provision, the use of informal education as the primary method of youth engagement, and an approach to provision that is responsive to young people’s abilities, preferences and availability. For young people to achieve their potential, they need to feel valued in order to support them to raise their aspirations, build in resilience and develop a self-belief that they can achieve.
Relationships are based on the core values of mutual respect and good parenting, respectful to the values of privacy, dignity, independence, choice, rights and fulfilment. This is the priority of the SEEDS approach.
The SEEDS continues to develop and embed an ‘Adolescent Hub’ to create a therapeutic environment where key partners, multi-agency professionals work collaboratively in supporting the needs of adolescents. The Hub will provide holistic support to young people, parents & carers.
The Youth Justice Service (YJS), sometimes referred to as the YOT, is a multi-agency team within the Adolescent Services department of the local authority. Overseen by the Youth Justice Board at government level, this is a statutory multi-disciplinary service, whose primary focus is on the needs of the child to prevent offending or reoffending. The partnership is made up of staff from social care, education and careers services, Police, National Probation Service and local health services.
The YJS works with young people at a prevention level, supporting individuals or groups identified as being at particular risk of offending in order to prevent them from entering the youth justice system. Through its prevention work, the YJS in co-ordinates a ‘virtual’ multi agency team to support young people who have displayed harmful sexual behaviours. The focus of this work is to prevent young people from repeating their behaviours, avoid their criminalisation where appropriate and promote healthy relationships .
The team also work with young people who have committed a crime, supervising 10-18 year olds who have been sentenced by a court, or who have come to the attention of the Police because of their offending behaviour but have been dealt with outside of a formal court.
As an agency, the Youth Justice Service aims to support children/young people during any point of contact with the youth justice system, whether that be prior to a crime to prevent it occurring, when at the Police station if they are arrested, at court and for those serving sentences in the community or in the secure estate.
The Emergency Duty Team (EDT) provides an out of hours service (evenings, weekends and bank holidays) across both Adults, Mental Health and Children’s Services.
The team consists of experienced Social Care and Social Work practitioners who are skilled in both adult and child protection and provide the AMHP role in response to mental health crises.
Staff work on a rota basis in an integrated setting with health and support colleagues.
Early Help and Support Services in Blackburn with Darwen:
The core purpose of Children’s Centres is child development and school readiness; parenting aspirations and parenting skills; and child and family health and life chances. Delivery has stretched to cover a 0 -11years age range.
Blackburn with Darwen has eight Children’s Centres. Centres operate as network to provide full borough coverage and ensure that the resource is deployed according to need across the Borough. The Borough is organised into four locality areas.
One Children’s Centre in each of these localities operates as ‘service’ hub for a range of Early Help and Support Services including:
Additionally two Children’s Centres provide a work and community base for a range of child development services that traditionally have been delivered in a hospital or clinical setting:
All eight centres have nursery provision on site, at six sites this is delivered directly by the Council and in the remaining two, private providers operate.
All of our centres have midwifery antenatal appointments; distribute Vitamin D drops and breastfeeding support on site and benefit from a book and toy library and community café.
This discreet Children’s Centre team work on a locality footprint to deliver groups and activities to support improving outcome for children and their families with a particular focus on support children and their families to be ready to school. Programmes are evidence based and can be accessed by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Support for the Wider Early Years Sector:
The Early Years Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) support service consists of a small Portage team who work with children under the age of three:
This team holds responsibility for the Boroughs’ Early Years SEND register and through our Partnership meetings, work closely with the health colleagues to ensure that the needs of children are addressed along with those of their families. Our Early Help assessment , still referred to as CAF, is the tool used to co-ordinate services for families open to this service to ensure a whole family approach and that parents are at the heart of decision making for their children.
Children aged 0-5 who have emerging developmental needs or who have Special Educational Needs and Disability SEND, are supported through the CAF assessment process. CAF is central to the work for children in their early years and their families. The CAF process ensures that parents are fully engaged in the decision making for their children, and those services to support the child and their family are well co-ordinated.
The QIT provide information, advice, support, challenge and training to the Early Year’s settings and providers. There is a graduated response which is determined by children’s outcomes data and Ofsted grades.
Leadership for learning is promoted through the ‘Early Years Foundation Stage Leader’ groups. These sessions are designed to bring all providers together who work in the same locality, including school colleagues, to share data, learning, new developments, information and to challenge each other. There is a shared ambition of ensuring that all children have access to high quality learning and provision.
Early Help assessment in Blackburn with Darwen is still referred to as Common Assessment Framework (CAF), but it has been much developed, shaped and streamlined with parents children and partners over the last six years. It is our underpinning tool for supporting children and their families, requiring the right help at the right time through a co-ordinated response.
The assessment tool is used to capture child and family strengths, unmet needs for members of the family as well as supporting lead professionals to identify risk factors.
One document is used to capture the assessment and SMART plan (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) for a whole family ensuring that each individual's needs are captured and a plan detailed as to how this will be addressed. Whilst the needs of parents must be considered, the children’s’ unmet needs must remain the focus of the assessment.
Our CAF Link Workers provide advice, guidance and 'hand holding' support for front line practitioners from all partner agencies on undertaking CAF assessments or in moving a CAF forward that may not be making progress. The role also provides challenge to organisations who are unwilling, or refuse, to take the Lead Professional (LP) role. Workers will where necessary, take the LP role to initiate the CAF until an alternative can be identified. The role also supports overview and scrutiny of incoming initial Common Assessment Framework CAF’s and Team Around the Family (TAF) plans and closures, offering feedback and support to make improvements where needed.
Lead Professional Network Meetings take place quarterly with a meeting in each of our four localities They provide a forum for Lead Professionals to connect to other colleagues in the same locality area to share learning and experiences. The meetings also provide an opportunity to share new data, developments, training and feedback from quality assurance activity.
This team of Family Support Workers work at Common Assessment Framework (CAF) level. The support offered by the team is driven by the CAF assessment and plan, is individualised to meet the needs of children and their wider family, and may include some or all of the following:
The team provide support to schools and settings through a team around the school approach and take referrals directly from school. Requests for service are also taken from Step down from Children social care, Step out from Children’s Advice & Duty Service (CADS) and Transforming Lives panel.
The Family Support Team work in partnership with Children’s Social Workers to improve understanding of children’s needs and family functioning, contributing and supporting in assessments and planning.
The team will provide a swift response to address presenting issues and needs such as home conditions, meeting young children’s health needs, play, routine and boundaries for children and their families. Where younger children (under 11 years of age) are on the edge of care, a discreet Family Support team works intensively across the week, and into weekend where needed, to seek to mitigate the presenting issues and prevent removal. This work is interdependent with Family Group conferencing and family plans.
The team use a Whole Family approach; Restorative and ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) informed practice to underpin their work. The ambition is that a Family Support Worker continues to support allocated families as they move down the Continuum of need and into Common Assessment Framework CAF, providing consistency of approach through the process.
The Family Support service also delivers a range of evidence based parenting support programmes including:
In Blackburn with Darwen, there is a pre-birth offer for expectant parents. This offer is open to parents across the continuum of need. Family Support Workers work alongside parents to help them to build on and develop their skills and confidence. Blackburn with Darwen accepts referrals at any stage of pregnancy, we recognise that the length of a pregnancy gives limited timescales for effective intervention. We want to ensure that parents can access the support they need at the earliest opportunity.
Children’s Social Care are implementing a pre-birth assessment through in-house training, with the aim of developing the Social Workers’ expertise in this area. The purpose of this work is to ensure that there is a robust pre-birth assessment, which identifies the areas of need and risk, informing the appropriate intervention and planning so this can be implemented as early in the pregnancy as possible.
Pre-birth assessment work is held within our Social Work and Assessment teams. Where risks to the unborn baby are at a greater level, an experienced Social Worker in one of our Assessment and Safeguarding Team (AST) teams holds them.
We have a locally developed evidence based recurrent care support package (through work with Research in Practice and Lancaster University). Work is aimed at parents who have had at least one previous removal and where we are progressing through the legal process. Information about this offer is shared with parents through PLO (Public Law Outline) meetings, as an offer of support post proceedings, should the outcome of a court hearing be removal at birth.
The Family Support Worker, who delivers recurrent care offer, is aligned with those who support pre-birth work; this provides an opportunity for relationship building ahead of any recurrent care offer.
The support package is designed to address the ongoing challenges and issues faced by the parents. Working with an ACE informed approach (Adverse Childhood Experiences) the worker will work with partners to support swift and easy access to:
Work will also look at community participation and contribution to support positive engagement and building resilience.
The Family Time Team work with children and families to ensure that time spent together is as rewarding, safe and supportive as possible. Through sessions, workers will provide support to children and their parents, undertake observation and detail reports to support ongoing assessment processes.
Where needed Family Time Support Workers will undertake specific pieces of direct work with children and families to enhance parental skills and expertise, collect, and document information including precious moments and memories for Life Story Work for individual children.
The Boroughs’ Young Carers and Adult Young Carers service is delivered in partnership through a commission with Child Action North West. The service provides information, advice and guidance to Young Carers who live in Blackburn with Darwen.
Where Young Carers have more complex needs, or face barriers in participating fully in the assessment process, a personalised approach is available. The service also facilitates access to positive activities as a break from caring and support Young Carers in reducing their caring role.
Maryvale is a commissioned service that provides short-term accommodation and support to prevent vulnerable young parents and their children from becoming homeless.
The service works to build confidence, knowledge and skills and to positively move families into independent accommodation.