SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
Staying Together are a team of workers with a broad range of evidence-based skills, training and experience. Their focus is to support families in an open and honest way by using strengths-based approaches to empower families and build resilience at times of crisis and for children and young people to remain within their family home. By listening to and valuing the families journey they hope to give them the opportunity to develop the skills for change and build resilience.
This chapter was added to the manual in September 2022.
- Overall Aims
- Criteria to Access the Staying Together Team
- The Referral Process
- Service Delivery
- The Exit Plan
- Appendix 1: Referral Process Flow Chart
- Appendix 2: Staying Together Team - Case Discussion Sheet
1. Overall Aims
The Overall Working Aims of the Staying Together Team are:
- To manage the risk associated with maintaining children and young people within their families and communities;
- To support families in providing stability when children and young people are in difficulty and “on the edge of care”;
- To support reunification of children/ young people back into the family home;
- To offer a tailored package of support using evidence-based interventions;
- To prevent a further increase in the number of children and young people who become looked after by the local authority.
2. Criteria to Access the Staying Together Team
For those Children and Young People who are regarded as being at risk of entering the care system or where a family is at risk of breakdown there will be an option of Staying Together work. Predominantly these cases will be Level 3 to Level 4 Safeguarding Threshold.
To ensure clarity and effective management oversight, the following criteria is proposed:
- Child/ Children aged between 8 -18 years;
- A manager believes the child(ren) will need to enter care within days or weeks as current levels of support are insufficient to safeguard them, the family’s needs are escalating and/or the family relationships or other issues are worsening;
- The family is in crisis which could result in parents/carer requesting child be placed in local authority care;
- Where an emergency placement has been agreed and there is realistic prospect of a safe return home;
- Where this is a significant escalation of behaviours which could result in family breakdown, such as:
- Damage to property (home/ carers);
- Risk of harm to others;
- Vulnerability to being harmed;
- Worsening Health Conditions of Child/ Parent;
- Escalation of risk-taking behaviours;
- Degenerating Parental Resilience;
- Accessing or carrying weapons;
- Substance Misuse;
- Risk of family breakdown;
- Fear of Child being abandoned;
- Domestic Abuse – Parental/ Interfamily;
- Exclusion/ NEET;
- Homelessness/ Eviction;
- Frequent Missing Episodes;
- Parental Conflict.
This is not an exhaustive list and other escalation/ combination of behaviours may be present and can used to access support from the staying together team.
3. The Referral Process
The staying Together Team are located within the Early Help Structure and work closely with social care colleagues across the cities within locality teams and the First Response Team. Appendix 1: Referral Process Flow Chart has the flow chart of the referral process. Access to the Staying Together Team will be in the first instance a case discussion with the Staying Together Team Manager/ DHOS and the allocated Team Manager to ascertain if the criteria is met (Appendix 2: Staying Together Team - Case Discussion Sheet) This should be saved on to livelink and recorded as a case discussion.
The case will require a single assessment from either reception or locality. Cases will be allocated at locality 2 VCM (VCM front sheet to be completed) where the Staying Together Team Manager will be in attendance. The completed assessment/ plans will be used as the main form of referral to the Staying Together Team and will be used to plan the intervention with the family.
If following the completion of the Single Assessment within reception and the threshold has been met for social care intervention at level 3 or 4, this will remain within the family’s locality address with the Staying Together Team offering their support package. The staying together team will not undertake any roles or responsibilities of the allocated social worker.
4. Service Delivery
The Staying Together Team will offer intensive support for a period of 12 weeks in the first instance, and this will be extended if needed and this will be based on family need and agreed at relevant meetings with both the lead professional and the team. A gradual reduction in support from the staying together team will occur towards the end of involvement to ensure families are not over reliant on this intensive level of support and allow families to evidence and implement interventions and advice offered.
Where a family is identified and accepted as a Staying Together referral a member of the team will undertake a home visit with the lead worker within 48hrs and then following this visit, the staying together team will identify a worker and create a crisis intervention plan and a tailored package of support within 5 days, based on the roles within the Staying Together Team this will be reviewed and amended accordingly. The family can contact the team at any time following the acceptance of the case into the Staying Together Team.
5. The Exit Plan
Once the work has been completed or attempted by the Staying Together Team, if the risk of entering the care system has subsided and there are further identified actions for the Staying Together Team, then the case will close. The case may remain with social care or a step across to the Early Help teams (if appropriate) This ideally should take place at review meetings and after a case discussion with the lead worker. In other circumstances it may be appropriate as an exit strategy for the Staying Together Team to step down to universal services.