Funding for families in the West Midlands

Everyone working in children’s services want young people to have the best start in life.

It’s something that local authorities continuously strive to achieve.

So when funding comes available to help us achieve this, it’s not surprising that there’s a fanfare of excitement that accompanies it.

The Department for Education’s £84 million strengthening families, protecting children (SFPC) programme is one such area of funding – some of which has made its way to the West Midlands.

Last week Walsall, Coventry, Telford and Solihull were named as the recipients of that cash which was hailed a major boost in helping families and look at ways of avoiding placing children in the care system.

There were just 15 areas chosen as pilot areas across the country, and the fact that four of them are in the West Midlands I very welcome indeed.

The money will be directed towards families, particularly early intervention to help prevent children going into care in the first place. We can do that in a number of ways but one of the most effective long term approaches is to improve family stability in the first place.

We have to do this safely, but we need to identify the families where this is a potential solution and look at ways of providing the help and support they need before the need for care arises.

Funding helps enormously to properly look at this as a viable option, ensuring the right children are in the right place with the right support for as long as it’s needed so they are safe from harm, happy and learning well.

The programme will be rolled out over five years, with an expectation that the model is self-sustainable by year three.

Ultimately, the goal is about giving children the best start in life, this funding is certainly a step in the right direction.

Helen Riley, chair of the West Midlands Children’s Services and Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities at Staffordshire County Council

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