Last year it was calculated that funding in early intervention services would fall in real terms by 70% by 2020. This would result in a direct, real cut from £3.2 billion to less than £900 million.
These cuts would hit services including among others, teenage pregnancy services, respite care, family support services and children’s centres which as of 2016 had had their budgets cut by a half.
What is particularly galling is that while our Government continues to cut services they continue to put a priority on early intervention services as an important way of ensuring children’s needs are met without the need for statutory safeguarding involvement.
How can this work?
Short answer, it can’t.
Let’s take a look at some local authorities close to us.
Kirklees (our base authority) in 2010-11 received £30.6 million pounds of early intervention support. In 2019-20 this will fall to £8.3 million. A reduction in real terms of £22.3 million.
Leeds in 2010-11 received £45 million pounds of early intervention support. In 2019-20 this will fall to £12.7 million. A reduction in real terms of £32.3 million
Bradford in 2010-11 received £43.6 million pounds of early intervention support. In 2019-20 this will fall to 12 million. A reduction in real terms of £31.6 million
With all these cuts it clear that there is a need for support in identifying and addressing early intervention needs for the most vulnerable children. Working with a number of academies in the local area we have been introducing new ways of working to address this through early help and attendance programmes.
Poor attendance in school often goes hand in hand with deprivation and can be seen as a sign of deeper safeguarding needs. We have been carrying out home visits to targeted pupils who the academies have identified as having an increased presenting need tied to a low attendance (below 90%). Each of these families has then taken part in a full social work assessment based on the comprehensive assessment model.
This process is allowing us to identify any needs that may be present , or in some cases assuage any worries the academy may have as no concerns are found.
Unfortunately due to the cuts that are being made a lot of the early intervention services that families could then be signposted to are no longer available. As such, academies are then having to introduce additional strategies with support from the Pivot social worker.
Although there is still a clear gap in service as cuts continue to remove early intervention services across the country this approach is serving to identify any issues families may be experiencing and, through close working relationships, the academies with our support are then able to start to identify any need for statutory intervention at an early stage whilst offering parents and carers support with those concerns that do not as yet meet the threshold for social care.