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Family therapy service could help 400 Norfolk children and save £7m, say council bosses

PUBLISHED: 11:03 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:46 25 January 2019

Stuart Dark, chairman of Norfolk County Council's children's services committee. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Stuart Dark, chairman of Norfolk County Council's children's services committee. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Norfolk Conservatives

A new service offering therapy to families in need has been launched, with council bosses saying it could save £7m over the next five years.

Norfolk County Council says its Stronger Families project is one of the first of its kind in the country and will help more children to live safely at home with their families - supporting about 400 children aged eight to 15.

The service will be provided by an organisation called Family Psychology Mutual, which will use a therapy called Functional Family Therapy Child Welfare within families’ homes, providing therapy to whole families.

It aims to repair relationships, help families to communicate better and help parents to better support and influence their children.

Stuart Dark, chairman of the children’s services committee at Norfolk County Council, said: “We know that children do better when they can live safely at home with their families, and this is one of several ways we are working to help families to be resilient and stay together.

“By providing therapy directly to families, the project can help to heal and build relationships that give children a much brighter future.

“We want to help families as early as possible, developing their strengths and giving them the support that they need to prevent problems from escalating.”

Tom Jefford, business development director for Family Psychology Mutual said: “We are building and training a dedicated team to deliver this in Norfolk and are confident that we can create sustainable change for families and young people with high needs.

Norfolk County Council is keen to reduce the number of its looked after children. In August last year, there was a high of 1,204 children in care, which had dropped to 1,193 as of the end of November.

The high numbers had been putting pressure on social workers. As of the end of September last year, 36.5pc of social workers had caseloads over recommended policies, although that had dropped to 32pc as of the end of November after changes were brought in.

Spending on children’s services was highlighted as one of the key pressures on the county council’s budget when leader Andrew Proctor recently revealed the budget gap has widened to a ‘cliff edge’ £70m.

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