Sandwell Family Partners

Our cost-effective service to tackle neglect builds a trusting relationship with parents, and challenges the whole family to make positive changes with intensive support at the early onset of difficulties.

We don't wait for a crisis to develop.

There is much need for our work in Sandwell. It is ranked as the 12th most deprived local authority in England, out of a total of 326. 

Family Partners requires voluntary income to meet the demand for this service. Local government resources are so scarce in Sandwell that they are forced to focus on crisis intervention for children, rather than early intervention, which is more effective in results and more economically effective. 

The Social Research Unit at Dartington, one of the UK’s leading authorities on services achieving the highest standards of evidence, has recently worked with us to develop our evidence base for the service.

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Early outcomes show the positive impact of Family Partners:

  • in 67% of cases, early or later indicators of neglect were addressed and concern about a child reduced
  • in 69% of cases, there was an improvement in the mental health of parents or carers and concerns about neglect or abuse of a child reduced
  • in 67% of cases, domestic abuse is addressed and concern about a child reduced
  • in 83% of cases, the child successfully improved their relationships with significant other/s
  • in 68% of cases, there was an improvement in a child’s emotional or mental wellbeing
  • 96% of families that have completed the Family Partners Programme have achieved positive outcomes, and evidence to ensure these changes have been sustained has been gathered at 3 & 6 month follow up visits.
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Funding the fight against child neglect

The cost of running our Sandwell Family Partners service for one year with two dedicated Family partners practitioners is just under £60,000.

Each family partner works with at least 24 families, meaning the service supports at least 48 families a year. This puts the cost at just £1,249 per family, which breaks down to just over £8 per day over the 22 week period.

There is a great need in the area and we would like to recruit more Family Partners if we can successfully raise additional funds. 

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A success story

Three boys aged 12, eight and seven lived with their parents. Both parents were drug-users, conditions in the house were very poor and the children did not have proper beds, bedding or toys. They were always unwashed. The heating was rarely on and there was a suspicion that bedding and toys were being sold to raise money for drugs.

The children were often dressed in inappropriate clothes. They rarely attended doctor or dentist visits, and their school attendance was poor. The parents had no relationship with the school and paid little attention to homework whilst the children had no boundaries and were running feral around the neighbourhood most evenings.

The children were not being fed at home at all. Mum reported to the support worker that she had caught the eldest child making jam sandwiches with stale, mouldy bread and jam.

One day, the mother was attacked in the house by a male friend. She was stripped and cut while the children were in the house. All the children were terrified, and the boy who had seen the attack started to talk about self-harming and suicide.

The boy was then referred to the NHS’ Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, (CAMHS), by the school and there began a multi-agency intervention, led by Action for Children.

Both parents started detox programmes and were given counselling to talk about their own childhood experiences and trauma. Support workers started visiting the family regularly to help tidy the house and introduce some basic routines. Action for Children provided a cookery course and a parenting course to help them understand the impact of their behaviour on the children.

All of the children were given family counselling to talk about their home life and what they’d like to change. All three children are now achieving really well at school and attendance is good. Mum and Dad are both engaging with the school and working together to ensure the children go there and are supported with homework. The eldest child recently won a gold award at school for achievement, and Mum and Dad were so proud and excited that they put it on the wall.

Dad has been out of employment for 10 years, but has recently taken a voluntary job at a local care home with the help of the case worker, to improve his chances of future employment.

This family has seen vast, fundamental changes. The children were hugely neglected and the environment was chaotic and drug-filled. The house is now clean and tidy, food is cooked every day and Mum in particular is really engaged with the children. The environment is loving and positive, thanks to the intensive support and help given by Action for Children and their partner agencies.