The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) responds to the Safeguarding Pressures Phase 5 report, published on Monday by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS):
This year’s ADCS Safeguarding Pressures research sheds important new light on the factors driving early help and children in need assessments. It highlights that many families are struggling with multiple and complex issues, including increasingly higher rates of abuse and neglect and high levels of family dysfunction. These problems are difficult to resolve and unfortunately there is no magic bullet, thus underlining the need for a range of interventions with good evidence of making a difference.
Our knowledge of ‘what works’ is steadily improving and we are now aware of several evidence-based programmes that could potentially decrease the need for some children going into care. Programmes with evidence of working include those that provide parents with strategies for managing difficult child behaviour and reducing family conflict. Making sure that these interventions are available for those who need them the most would represent an important step forward.
But these interventions do not work for all parents, especially if domestic violence, parental substance misuse or mental health problems are very serious. This year’s ADCS Safeguarding Pressures research tells us that these problems are prevalent and increasing. Unfortunately, there are very few interventions with evidence of improving outcomes for these families, representing a serious gap in our knowledge about ‘what works’. Filling this gap in the evidence should therefore also be a priority if the potential of early help and interventions on ‘the edge of care’ to reduce safeguarding pressures is to be realised.