Support for families

Posted on Thursday 15th October 2020

Newport City Council has introduced a number of initiatives aimed at keeping children safe with their families and out of care.

Children's services staff have established four new programmes using Welsh Government grant funding and redirecting their own resources.

Baby and Me involves a small team including social workers and health staff working with families from the early stages of pregnancy with an intensive package of support. The families are those at very high risk of their babies being removed at birth and early indications are that the intervention is successful.

Family group conferencing is a nationally evaluated scheme where families are supported to find ways to address challenges and provide support.

Mediation workers are focusing on supporting families as soon as they are referred, particularly those with older teenagers who are experiencing difficulties. They are also working with families with older children who have been in care for long periods to see if they can safely return home.

In the fourth scheme, a team supports extended families who care for children where special guardianship orders are in place or where relatives have been approved as foster carers.

Councillor Paul Cockeram, the council's cabinet member for social services, said: "These four schemes are working extremely well and have been positively received by families.

"The aim is to reduce the number of looked after children but this will take time. The figures in Newport have been relatively stable but a lot of the factors which determine whether a child is taken into care are outside our control.

"We believe the coronavirus pandemic will have increased the strain and pressures on some parents and family breakdown will be a consequence for some.

"We share the Welsh Government's ambition to keep children out of care and we will continue to everything possible to support families to realise that. However, keeping children safe is our main priority, whether they are at home, in foster care or in a residential setting.

"I'm pleased that we are increasing our residential provision within the city with two new homes already established and a third on the way. This means we can keep Newport children within the city and support them, and their families, to achieve the best possible outcomes, especially for the children."

At its most recent meeting, cabinet approved a report outlining the Welsh Government's expectations, actions being taken and the challenges faced by the council.

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