Rob Harrison Fgc

Young Carers and Family Group
Learning about using this approach to deliver
sustainable outcomes for young carers
Rob Harrison: Children’s Service Manager (Barnardo’s Bolton Service)
Naomi Clewett: Barnardo’s Research and Policy Assistant
Key values for young carers
•1st: Clear definition required as to what a young
carer is and clear use of language around the
impact of this. This leads to an absolute focus on
reducing this impact and the need for change.
•Young carers are children and young people first
and should be able to access the same
opportunities as their peers.
•Parents should be supported to be parents and just
because a parent has an illness or disability, it
doesn’t mean that they cannot be a good parent
and are not entitled to support to be the best parent
they can be.
•All agencies are involved in supporting young
carers and many agencies have a duty to support
them. Services and commissioners need to be clear
on how they see the role of a specialist young
carers service.
Key values for FGC services
•All families are capable of making safe plans for
the care of their own children and have the right to
have the opportunity to do so, given clear
information as to the nature and extent of
professional concerns
•Clear view around the evidence base for change
and the role of the professional in facilitating change
(issues for New Zealand in the 1980s)
•Services need to be culturally competent and
relevant to families (origin of FGC)
•Strong families will want to sustain their own
solutions and will not want to depend on services.
Specialist services need therefore to work to reduce
the need for their intervention in people’s lives.
A message from New Zealand
(Shannon Pakura 2005)
If the child at the centre of the intervention you are responsible for was the most important person in your life—your son,
your daughter, your nephew or niece, your best friend’s child, or your mokopuna—you would want, as a minimum,
for that child to remain connected with those whom they know and love, and that their sense of belonging would
never be compromised. We can intervene in families’ lives but we do not control that family’s life—that is not our
job and can never be our job.
I have a three-year old grandson. He is the love of my life. He is a handsome wee man, he has sandy hair, and a Maori
nose. He is naughty, he has been known to throw the odd tantrum, and there is no denying he is very spoilt. My
plea to you as a fellow professional is:
Should my Caleb ever come to your attention, should you ever have a professional role to play with him, should you be
a social worker, or a lawyer or a co-ordinator or a judge—this is what you must do:
• You must find his Nana;
• You must find his aunts and uncles, cousins and
• You must find his hapu, iwi—even if he does not know
them, they will know him;
• You must make sure he is surrounded by those who
love him and are connected to him;
• You must not send him to strangers without our consent
and involvement.
• You must move heaven and earth to protect him,
remembering he is mine not yours.
A message from New Zealand
(Shannon Pakura 2005)
This is your job. This is the professional role. This is the role of the state!!!
My people communicate our values through oral narratives and proverbs. I want to conclude with the
proverb that spans tribal and hapu boundaries in New Zealand:
Mehemea ka patai mai koe he aha
te mea tino nui, ka whakahoki ahau,
he tangata! he tangata! he tangata!
You ask me what is the most
important thing in all the world
I will answer you.
It is people! It is people! It is people!
Our Remit
To reduce the level and
impact of caring for young
To work with young carers
and their families with the
aim of maximising our
impact and reaching those
who need support
How does
the FGC
model fit with
young carers
Multi-agency approach,
working within
communities and
t and
Advocacy is
With the right
information and
resources families will
make good and safe
decisions for their
Ethos and
Families have the right to
define their own
problems and find
solutions to their
What is the role of the
state and
Facilitation v “intervention”
Why children are carers – working with the idea that
young people should not be young carers as opposed
to supporting them in this capacity
Using strict criteria around eligibility so we work where
change needs to occur and not with young people
growing up with level 1 issues (ie: ones not requiring a
targeted or multiagency response)
Use of an evidence based approach to enable change
and empower families to own their plan
Evidencing change and outcomes and “support”
coming from within families firstly, and then from
mainstream providers
If social work is about change, we need to use the
best available approach to manage scarce resources
to achieve the greatest change where it is most
Focus of Local Provision for
Young Carers
• Views of parents – Disabled Parents network view around parental
and family responsibility
• Discourse analysis around “young carers”, media imagery and
language of heroism as opposed to safeguarding
• Clear focus on role of families, mainstream providers & the targeted
young carers service
• Issues around “investment” – young carers may not want their caring
role to reduce if they feel they may lose activity-based services
• All services need to be challenged around inclusivity rather than
young carers accessing separatist provision
• Services cannot problematise parents because of their condition, or
young people’s experience of childhoods
• If we argue caring affects young people negatively, we should not
offer support to sustain them in this role, but targeted services need to
evidence how we change this and reduce their level of caring
•Links to Every Child Matters and the local Framework For Action –
taking the lead at level 2, using change and evidence based model.
•What we do if assessed as being at level 3
Framework for Action
“Windscreen wiper”
Bolton Service story
• Linked young carers service at level 2 of the
• Focus of contract for Bolton and view around the
local framework for what a young carers service
should achieve
• Promotion of FGC as an evidence based
approach to influence nationally
• Publication of resource pack and year-long
research into sustainability
• 75 FGCs delivered since Sept 2008 and 111
young carers worked with in 2009-2010 (some at
level 3)
• Additional mental health contract and innovation
fund work, and new safeguarding FGC service in
• Naomi: Can we include the quote from Sarah
The “open door”
• Clear focus at level 2 according to the local
Framework for Action
• Focus on what does need to change and
reduction of the caring role, but also the “whole
child” and whole family
• Looking at access, equality of opportunity and
routes into the service (5 day period in contract
so no waiting list permitted)
• 1. Self referral – outreach and promotion
• 2. CAF (children’s service and schools/
Champions network)
• 3. Making children’s social workers lives easier –
joint working agreement
• 4. Adult social work perspective – CAF and joint
working agreement
Family Group Conferencing
Key Elements:
•A family-centred decision-making
•The voice of the young person is central
to the process and guides the adults’
•Involves a wide network of friends,
family and significant others.
•Encourages collaborative working by
frontline statutory agencies and service
•Adopts a strengths based perspective.
•In keeping with other legislative and
policy initiatives (eg: Public Law Outline).
What is different about
Q. How do families feel when they attend a “Child
Action Meeting”/ school meeting/ CP
1. Child is always there and has a say – the voice
of the child guides the adults in making
decisions about them
2. All about transference of power – choice
around services/ expertise in writing the plan/
venue/ specific requirements/ positioning
3. Cultural sensitivity – basis and origin of FGC
4. Extended family key to success
Differences between safeguarding
and young carers FGCs.
1. Acts as a “best practice” Team Around the
Child at level 2 for the above reasons, but
there is no allocated Social Worker (level 3)
2. Independence of the coordinator from
enforcement is the same, but the person
coordinating FGC also completes CAF and the
agenda with the family. Agenda, focus and
“bottom line” is always held by the Social
Worker in higher risk FGCs
3. Level of risk is lower – numbers of family
members attending can be lower
The Process:
See above (“open door”)
FGC is a solution focused model, therefore there should be clear goals
set - what exactly do the child and their family hope to achieve by having
an FGC?
There must be a commitment from agencies to the FGC process. This
means taking part in the preparation period, attending the conference
and reviews, and providing resources where they have a duty to do so.
The Project Worker is responsible for preparing the young person for
their conference e.g. what it is they want to ask for and how they will
word it.
Use of the agenda – a tool for preparation and for contracting boundaries
The young person identifies the people involved in their support network
who they would like to be part of their conference.
Mediation may be needed prior to the conference if some relationships
have broken down. The co-ordinator has the power to exclude people,
and represent their views in other ways (including agencies).
The co-ordinator meets with all those who have agreed to be part of the
conference and prepares them for it, using the agenda as a tool for this
The Process
The Conference
- A) Information Sharing - This begins with the family
questioning agencies to obtain clarification around what
support is available.
- The young person then shares their views.
- B) Private family time - The co-ordinator and
professionals leave, while the young person and their
support network have some private time to create a
- C) Agreeing the Plan - Everyone needs to be happy to
accept and support the plan and it must keep the child
- Review focuses on changes which have occurred and
a reassessment of level of risk and outcomes
Aim to investigate the use of FGC with young carers, outlining the
benefits and challenges to services, and the considerations to be made
•4 members of staff from BSYC
•12 professionals from partner agencies that work with BSYC
•Local authority commissioner of BSYC
•6 Barnardo’s FGC practitioners
•18 young people and their families that had taken part in an FGC with
BSYC within the past 2 years
•13 young carers completed empowerment questionnaires
Headline findings
Political and economic fit
Wider support networks
Children and young people felt
FGCs empower families to take
ownership of their own support,
increase their confidence in dealing with
universal, frontline services, and reduce
dependency on specialist services.
FGC can strengthen partnership
working around the family.
It is important to work with families at the
right level of need
It got things put in place, it got
things moving, and it gave
things a focus... it was focus
around the family, the whole
family dynamics really’
Year 9 Learning and Welfare Leader
I think the young carers find it very
beneficial, a lot of work goes into
it and they feel it’s there for them
and they’re in control of it
Senior Health Practitioner
I will admit its always a bit nerve
racking … beforehand you’re
always thinking about what’s
going to be said and will I
offend people and things like
that… but I think it was really
good, I felt really confident..
Young Person, 19
Long term impact
Contingencies and sustainability
Barnardo’s research found that all 12 families we spoke
to who had received an FGC more than six months
ago, were still experiencing benefits:
Several young people told us that they’d
‘know where to turn to if things got worse’
‘There haven’t been anymore crisis points
but if it did go back too far I think I’d know
where to start from now’
one young man had re-established regular
contact with his mum as a direct result of
the FGC
School involvement is particularly
Because we don’t have time for breakfast
in the morning they said we could have
breakfast at school. And if we ever want
someone to talk to we can go and talk to
[teacher] he is a one to one teacher… if
you don’t feel confident in your lesson you
can ask him to sit in his lesson and do
work there.
Young person, 15
Even though the Barnardo’s meetings have
stopped I still see one student regularly and
make a point of seeing him even just to ask
if he’s ok or checking that things are still in
Head of Year 10
Cost- benefits
As this is a relatively cheap,
short term intervention, the
cost-benefits are apparent.
It just feels like the right model at the right time
because we’re anticipating further cuts and we
can’t sustain long term involvement with
families in the same way because there’s not
the budget
Children’s services commissioner, Bolton
What next?
We are continuing to collect
data from questionnaires
measuring amount and
impact of caring
We would like to look at
effectiveness and cost
effectiveness – this is
What this model needs to
• Backing of partners - clear agreement locally on what the
focus of the young carers service has to be
• Staff – boundaries/ notions of “help”
• A clear and agreed outcomes framework to demonstrate
impact clearly
• Policy and procedure need to be robust
• Protocols – joint working with Social Services (Adult and
• Partnerships with many other agencies at strategic level
• Need good range of mainstream/ community provision
• Barriers:
• Managing expectations of other agencies and families
•Funding – can be centred on activities – how local agreement
on the priorities for young carers helps this
Thank you for participating
•Activity - Strengths and
Potential Barriers in
other areas
•Any questions?
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