Calderdale Council has been recognised, in a major national report, for the support it provides to young people who have been in care to enable them to be successful parents.
Since 2016, the Council’s Positive Choices project has helped young people in Calderdale to make informed choices about parenthood. It was one of 50 projects selected to be part of the Department for Education Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme, and has received £440,000 of funding through the scheme.
Some young people who are looked after or care leavers become pregnant while they are supported by the Council. Unfortunately, their babies sometimes have to be taken into care.
Positive Choices works with young women, and where appropriate their partners, throughout pregnancy and the child’s early years to help them fully understand family planning and to care for their baby well.
The difference this has made to young people is highlighted in the Department for Education Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme Round 2 Final Report. The report evaluates the programme against its aims of developing, testing and sharing effective ways to support vulnerable children and young people.
It found that, over periods of up to three years after receiving support through Positive Choices, a significantly greater proportion (68%) of babies and children have been able to remain living at home with their parents without ongoing substantial help.
This was thanks to dedicated key workers providing intensive, personalised support to young people before and during pregnancy and after their child’s birth. This enterprising work bucks the traditional approach to children’s social care where support typically starts after the child’s birth, even where prospective parents are known to be vulnerable.
The report praises the project for helping to provide “a compelling case for investment in intensive support services for pregnant women who are at high risk of future child removals.” It is estimated that the Department for Education’s investment of £440,000 into Positive Choices over three years has resulted in savings of at least £781,744 for the Council, through reducing risk to children and the need for entry into care.
Cllr Adam Wilkinson, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, said:
“We want Calderdale’s children and young people to have the best possible start in life and to achieve their full potential. We are delighted that our work with some of our most at-risk young people has been recognised nationally.
“Sadly, across the country there is a lack of effective support for women who have had, or are at risk of having, children removed from their care. We hope that our innovative Positive Choices project, which is having amazing outcomes, will emphasise how important this support is and help other areas to develop similar schemes.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council’s Children and Young People’s Services have been working hard to ensure that children who are looked after and care leavers continue to be well supported. Some of the Innovation Programme funding has been used to develop new ways of working to enable the Positive Choices programme to continue to run safely.
For more information about the Positive Choices project, visit www.calderdale.gov.uk/positive-choices