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PCC helps launch First Response service for children, young people and families


The First Response service aims to provide the right help sooner for children, young people and families

Bristol’s new First Response service is being launched today (17th April).  The service will be the one place to call if someone feels a child or young person needs protection. Parents or carers who need support with parenting or who think that their child needs some help from children’s services in Bristol should also call First Response.

Run by the council and the Police Safeguarding Coordination Unit, its main aim is to provide preventative services to help families earlier.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol said: “First Response is a targeted service aimed at getting the right help to Bristol’s children, young people and families sooner. Ideally we want to help families access the support they need to keep their lives on track and prevent problems from escalating.”

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “We all have a responsibility for the safeguarding and welfare of children and young people. The First Response service is committed to providing help where and when it is needed.

“Combining the specialist skills of the valuable agencies and teams across Bristol and working closely together will enable those who need it most to receive personalised help and support. This should start to solve daily challenges or prevent children, young people and families from harm.”

Callers to the First Response Team will be asked a series of questions to decide the best route for helping the child and/or family. A ‘Request for Help’ referral form is completed and used to build up a broader picture of that child’s/family’s situation, with the First Response team consulting (with permission) other professionals such as teachers, health staff and the police.  Information is held safely and securely in one place.

Detective Chief Superintendent Julian Moss said: “We are proud to be working alongside Bristol City Council and other agencies, to ensure a joined up approach to protecting vulnerable young people and supporting parents.

“This scheme is about effectively working together as one team, to maximise correct early intervention and support for children at risk, so that they get the support they need from the relevant professionals.

“I hope that this joined-up way of working, with police and children’s services working in partnership to improve outcomes for young people, can be replicated in other areas of our business.”

Phoning First Response may result in information, advice and guidance being given about services to help families. It may also result in a referral to an Early Help team who can get support for families from children’s services such as Children’s Centres and parenting mentors. If the issue is more serious then a referral will be made to a social work team.

When a referral is made to the Early Help team or a social work team, key to this new approach is creating a “team around the child”, led by one person who will involve children, young people and families in the plans made to help them. 

Testing of First Response has shown that social work teams have had fewer contacts and referrals. As a result they have been able to spend more time working with vulnerable children and their families.

Posted on Thursday 17th April 2014
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