Presentation by Linda Clegg, Director of Children's Services and Karen Barrick, Head of Service - permanence, Blackburn with Darwen Council to National Children and Adult Services Conference 2014

Wednesday 29th October 2014, 12.30pm

This session presented a successful alternative to care model for teenagers which has been operating over the past 7 years and has clearly demonstrated over a 50% decrease in the numbers of teenagers coming into care and some excellent outcomes for those children and their families.

The adolescent support unit model was developed in Blackburn with Darwen following the closure of a children's home and has evolved over the past 7 years. Evidence suggests that the costs of running the service are more than covered by preventing as few as 4 teenagers coming into care per year.

The staff are trained in a variety of ways to enable them to work with families and young people to improve relationships and family lives on an outreach basis. The short break provision has also prevented many young people being accommodated in a time of family crisis and can also be used to offer families a regular break whilst giving the young person some extremely positive and valuable experiences.

In a time of austerity, this innovative model enables Councils to deliver effective support services to adolescents and their families as an alternative to care. The benefits are that families remain together and work through difficulties and less teenagers come into expensive residential placements. The work done with families benefits other children in the family too as parents learn skills to help them cope better.