Guidance

Strengthening families, protecting children (SFPC) programme

Information about the SFPC programme to help safely reduce the number of children entering care.

This programme is investing £84 million over 5 years to support up to 20 local authorities to improve work with families to safely reduce the number of children entering care.

The programme will support the selected local authorities to roll out one of 3 children’s social care innovation programme projects in their own area.

These projects aim to enable more children to stay at home in safe and stable family environments, so that fewer children need to be taken into care.

They will do this by:

  • strengthening local practice systems to more effectively meet the needs of children and young people
  • developing services that build resilience in families
  • enabling social workers to manage risk more confidently, so children can stay safely within the home

We are working with What Works Centre for children’s social care to evaluate the impact of this programme.

SFPC projects

Local authorities joining the programme will be fully supported to help implement their chosen model. They will receive funding and on-the-ground support to do this from the local authorities who designed the projects (Leeds, Hertfordshire or North Yorkshire).

Leeds family valued

This programme seeks to create a shift in culture towards working ‘with’ families rather than doing things ‘to’ them. Services that draw on existing strengths and relationships in the wider family network are used to support continuity of familial relationships. This includes widening the availability of family group conferences, a service that engages families in the processes of devising effective plans for children while also providing them with support.

Hertfordshire family safeguarding

This programme focuses on meeting the needs of both children and the adults around them. By working with multidisciplinary teams, which include adult specialist workers, families can access tailored support to address their needs and the risks posed to children. The programme also uses motivational interviewing, a counselling approach aimed at empowering parents to make sustainable changes that will benefit children.

North Yorkshire’s no wrong door

This is an integrated service and approach to supporting adolescents with complex needs. Working in hubs, it brings together a range of housing options, services and outreach support under one management team. This means local authorities can address a young person’s needs within a single team.

Participating local authorities

Local authorities were eligible to join the programme if they had:

  • an Ofsted rating of ‘requires improvement to be good’
  • high rates of looked after children compared to their local authority statistical neighbour median over for the last 3 years, and/or rising rates of looked after children in each of the last 3 years

Eligible local authorities were selected to join the programme following a rigorous process, covering assessments of need, suitability and commitment to making a whole system change. 3 local authorities (Darlington, Cambridgeshire and Middlesbrough) started the programme in Spring 2019, with a further 15 announced in October 2019.

Participating local authorities’ chosen models

Leeds family valued:

  • Darlington
  • Warwickshire
  • Newcastle
  • Coventry
  • Solihull
  • Sefton

Hertfordshire family safeguarding:

  • Cambridgeshire
  • Walsall
  • Lancashire
  • Telford and Wrekin
  • Wandsworth
  • Swindon

North Yorkshire’s no wrong door:

  • Middlesbrough
  • Rochdale
  • Norfolk
  • Warrington
  • Redcar and Cleveland
  • Leicester

Contact us

For more information about the strengthening families, protecting children programme, email strengthening.families@education.gov.uk.

Published 6 April 2019
Last updated 6 January 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated with models used by local authorities.

  2. First published.