Over £1m of government funds has been awarded to a Norfolk County Council project designed to prevent 180 children coming into care every year.
Local efforts to support families of children with behavioural, social and emotional difficulties are expected to annually save £3m by reducing numbers of young people being looked after and educated out of the county in specialist provision.
Norfolk County Council, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, the Benjamin Foundation and a local education site have been awarded the cash to create a ‘virtual residential school’ for children at risk of coming into care.
Residential placements, respite breaks and a 24-hour outreach service will be offered to families, alongside therapeutic support and mentoring. Efforts will also be taken to stop foster families from breaking apart.
Chairman of the children’s services committee at Norfolk County Council, James Joyce, said: ‘We want these children to stay in Norfolk, wherever possible, and to give their families the package of support they need to stay together.
‘This approach, which combines therapy, education and respite, is aimed at helping children to overcome their difficulties and access education, as well as providing the outreach services that can help to reduce the number of children coming into care.’
Sarah Jones, deputy chief executive at The Benjamin Foundation said: ‘We are delighted to be working in partnership to deliver this service for Norfolk. Our experience of working with families will help provide a ‘front door’ for young people and families to access this support.’