Category: News

For Baby’s Sake wins major national safeguarding award

We are delighted to share the news that, on 24 November 2022, For Baby’s Sake and our partnership with Blackpool Better Start won the Safeguarding Award at the prestigious Children and Young People Now awards.

This award is for the initiative nationally that is making the biggest contribution to keeping children and young people safe from harm.  Judges looked for exceptional teamwork and multi-agency working.  They highlighted the whole-family outcomes achieved through For Baby’s Sake and our partnership with Blackpool Better Start.  The judges praised how For Baby’s Sake Practitioners work therapeutically with both parents, starting in pregnancy, to empower parents to break the cycle of domestic abuse, develop skills for resilience and give their baby the best start in life, especially when they did not have that themselves.

Thank you to Blackpool Better Start for nominating the Blackpool For Baby’s Sake Team, in recognition of the impact of For Baby’s Sake on the families participating in the programme and on wider professional practice and systems, including for engaging fathers and improving support and outcomes for care-experienced families.

It was perfect timing to win the award on the eve of global 16 Days of Activism against domestic and gender-based violence and celebrate the For Baby’s Sake model of whole-family safeguarding and breaking intergenerational cycles of domestic abuse. 

This award comes less than a year after the Centre for Justice Innovation awarded For Baby’s Sake the Nick Crichton Award for Family Justice, with judges praising our innovative whole-family model.

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Blackpool Better Start and Blackpool For Baby’s Sake empower parents to drive system change for parents and babies born into care

The annual Blackpool Better Start conference on 13 October 2022 featured a powerful workshop on Blackpool’s contribution and response to the ‘Born into Care’ initiative to drive system change for parents and babies when the state intervenes to remove babies at birth.

Blackpool has had one of the highest rates in the country of babies being removed from their parents’ care at birth, owing to safeguarding concerns. In 2017 one child in every 46 births was born into care, compared with, say, the London borough of Richmond on Thames, where the figure was one child in 813 births.

This statistic, alongside the strong commitment in Blackpool, delivered through the Better Start Partnership, to transform the life chances of babies and empower parents and families, led Blackpool to play a leading role in a ‘Born Into Care’ initiative.

Nationally, ‘Born into Care’, a collaborative project led by Lancaster University, The Rees Centre at Oxford University and the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory has been understanding the scale and impact of babies being born into care, from the perspectives of parents as well as professionals, with the conclusion that national guidance is required to introduce more sensitive and humane practice when the state intervenes at birth.  The complexities and sensitivities led the researchers to produce draft guidelines to be piloted with partner research sites in England and Wales.

Blackpool is one of the partner sites which contributed to the research and has been playing a leading role, through an innovative co-production approach, in responding to the draft guidance.

Two co-production groups were established in Blackpool – one for mothers and one for fathers – and each also involving professionals such as midwives, social workers and specialist service providers.  The Blackpool For Baby’s Sake team were involved in both and were instrumental in particular to the success of the fathers’ co-production group, with most of the fathers in the group also being fathers who were participating in For Baby’s Sake.

All those involved were acutely aware of the sensitivities of bringing together parents with lived experience of their babies having been removed at birth and professionals such as social workers who represented those who had made the decisions about their baby’s removal.

Creative and trauma-informed approaches were used to build trust and understanding between the parents and professionals, to establish the principle that everyone around the table was equal and to demonstrate that success hinged on everyone feeling heard and valued.  Before getting round the table, more informal social events were organised to build those relationships, even including a trip for the fathers and professionals in the fathers’ group to a local boxing club.

The story of this extraordinary co-production is best told by the parents and professionals who took part and they have made a film, Born into Care – Blackpool, which you can watch here

As one of the For Baby’s Sake Practitioners says in the film: ‘lived experience is one of the best resources you’ll ever get.’

The film identifies principles, based on learning constructively from the past and what needed to change and also based on best practice from services currently operating in Blackpool, including For Baby’s Sake. 

The contributions from the For Baby’s Sake Blackpool team and parents who are engaging with For Baby’s Sakehighlight the importance of being trauma-informed and strengths-based. For Baby’s Sake is especially designed to meet the needs of parents with unresolved past trauma.  When that unresolved trauma arises from the parents having been taken into care, or having had a baby previously removed, this can be especially triggering when those parents become parents again and prepare for the birth of their baby.

One mother reflects on her relationship with her For Baby’s Sake Practitioner:  ‘she supported me and listened and was there from the get-go for who I was at that time and not who I used to be’.

Being trauma-informed is at the heart of Blackpool Better Start and this shared commitment is at the core of the strong partnership between The For Baby’s Sake Trust and our Blackpool Better Start partners. The essential requirement to be authentically trauma-informed is a key recommendation from Blackpool to all those with a role to play, locally and nationally, in implementing the guidance and driving system change to avoid and reduce the incidence and impact of babies being born into care.

As one of the For Baby’s Sake Practitioners says in the film

‘You can say you are a trauma-informed service but unless you offer a really authentic response to that trauma and you understand that underpinning all of the challenges, all of the difficult behaviours and the risks that you are concerned about, unless you understand that trauma is at the root of that, you aren’t going to get very far’.

The film is full of practical recommendations to support parents, starting in pregnancy, when they have previously had babies removed or are on a journey to their baby certainly or possibly being removed at birth. These include planning ahead, providing clarity, being inclusive to fathers and understanding and responding to the feelings of parents.  As a member of the For Baby’s Sake Blackpool team says, ‘the answers have come from the lived experiences of the parent….we have to listen to their voice’.

To watch the Born into Care – Blackpool film, click here

To watch the workshop at the Blackpool Better Start conference, including the film plus presentations from Claire Mason, Research Fellow at Lancaster University and Pauline Wigglesworth, Co-produced Research and Transformation Lead at Blackpool Council, click here

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For Baby’s Sake referenced in national safeguarding guidance, highlighting whole family response and work with fathers

For Baby’s Sake was chosen by the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel as one of four programmes nationally to highlight in a report identifying good practice on multi-agency safeguarding in relation to domestic abuse.

The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel was set up by the Government to conduct national reviews of serious child safeguarding cases and to publish thematic guidance and learning.

Its report, ‘Multi-agency safeguarding and domestic abuse briefing paper published on 29 September 2022, sets out common themes emerging from serious case reviews, as well as from learning from evidence and stakeholder feedback on effective practice.

The report identifies four core practice principles that should underpin practice approaches when working with children and young people, their parents, wider families and networks in relation to domestic abuse.  As the diagram below indicates, these principles are recognised as interlinked and interdependent.

 

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The report’s authors met the Senior Leadership Team of The For Baby’s Sake Trust and had discussions with Team Managers or Practitioners across all our For Baby’s Sake sites to help identify the core practice principles and how they are interconnected.

The report’s information about For Baby’s Sake (see page 20 of the report) quotes evidence from the King’s College London evaluation that connects well with the Panel’s recommended core practice principles.

The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel report’s authors highlighted a key learning from their own research into our programme, that ‘For Baby’s Sake is a whole-family programme, integrating work with fathers and giving them a voice within the safeguarding system that otherwise may not be sought or heard’.  This is significant in the context of growing recognition of the need to strengthen engagement with fathers within safeguarding.

This briefing report is the second publication by the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel to make a reference to For Baby’s Sake and to draw on learning from our ways of working.  In September 2021, the Panel published ‘The Myth of Invisible Men: safeguarding children under 1 from non-accidental injury caused by male carers’. In their foreword to the report, the authors said, Safeguarding practice with fathers of young children is something of a paradox. Despite evidence suggesting some men are very dangerous, service design and practice tends to render fathers invisible and generally ‘out of sight’. The report’s title: ‘The Myth of Invisible Men’ reflects our resolve to get behind this paradox so that work with fathers might become less ambiguous and more effective.”

The For Baby’s Sake Trust’s Director of Operations and Independent Safeguarding Advisor both contributed to the report, through being interviewed and attending round-table discussions, to help identify effective practice, drawing on the ways of working within For Baby’s Sake.  This report cited For Baby’s Sake as one of very few programmes nationally working with fathers in ways that specifically incorporated the safeguarding and support needs of babies

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Our sponsored Great Big Walk For Herts

We are delighted to have been chosen as one of 12 ‘Helping Herts 2022’ charities.  Helping Herts supports charities with community fundraising campaigns and is focusing this year on charities improving the lives of children and young people.  The For Baby’s Sake Trust was chosen to recognise how For Baby’s Sake is improving the lives of babies and children affected by domestic abuse.

As part of this wonderful campaign, we are taking place in a sponsored Great Big Walk for Herts on 24 September, with all 12 Helping Herts charity partners walking a section of the Hertfordshire Way, to raise funds for their own charities. Hertfordshire is surrounded by amazing countryside and this walk will offer an opportunity to explore Herts and raise money at the same time.

A number of our staff, trustees, friends and family, will be walking 12.2 miles of the Hertfordshire Way (from Wallington to Little Wymondley) to raise money. Money raised is being generously match funded by the Chaldean Charitable Trust.

All donations will continue to support the work that our charity provides to help families break cycles of domestic abuse and give their babies the best start in life.

Please donate today if you can and help us reach out target, Thank you.

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Towards a common outcomes framework for all for children and families

Building on our work on common outcomes for families and children affected by domestic abuse and child maltreatment, the Trust’s ambition has expanded and the collaboration has grown ….

There is great inconsistency in how the experiences of children and families are defined, measured and talked about. The difficulties that arise from using many different terms and definitions to express outcomes and the impact of efforts to improve lives and life chances comes up time and again in reviews, reports and conversations.  It means that too often we talk at cross-purposes and cannot compare results, build on or share our learning in a meaningful way.  Consequently, we waste time, effort and money.

The For Baby’s Sake Trust has partnered with Kindred Squared and the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF), to bring together a group of organisations involved in working with children, families and communities to agree how success for them will be defined and measured.  This includes What Works Centres, academics, trusts and foundations and many others working locally and at a national level.  This group has identified the opportunity for those involved in outcomes work to improve consistency and collaborate with one another, including recognising the potential for a national approach to act as a ‘map’ for all efforts to improve children’s lives and prospects, acting as a point of orientation for those frameworks that focus on specific aspects of children’s lives.

As an initial review step for this collaborative effort, in early 2022 Kindred Squared commissioned:

  • the development of an outline of the current situation and the case for collaborative effort
  • a summary of some of the existing outcomes frameworks and sets (and related research)
  • an overview of key concepts and terminology to support shared understanding and
  • a high level illustration of what an overarching framework might look like for all children.

A growing group of interested parties continues to collaborate, using the outputs of the review (attached here) as the starting point for further discussion of a common approach.  This will include at a local or service-specific level, exploration of how the voices and specific needs of children, families and communities could shape how success is defined and outcomes measured.

Read the summary of existing outcomes sets and frameworks for children and families here.

Our partnership work, including the joint report with Kindred Squared, sits at the core of the Children’s Commissioner’s report, published in December 2022, on establishing a common outcomes set, as part of her recommendations from the Family Review.  Read more about ‘Outcomes Framework: Annex to a positive approach to parenting: Part 2 of the Independent Family Review‘ and our contribution to this report HERE.

Please do get in touch via the Kindred Squared contact form or email elainefulton@forbabyssake.org.uk if you’re interested in being involved in our continuing collaborative work to drive system change for children and families through the establishment of common outcomes.

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Core Outcome Set for domestic abuse

The For Baby’s Sake Trust has been working with others to establish a core set of outcomes, indicators and measures to be used when creating, delivering and evaluating programmes to prevent and reduce domestic violence and abuse, whether working with those who use abuse, those experiencing abusive behaviour, children, babies and whole families. 

The intention is to drive positive change, innovation, communication and genuine collaboration across professional boundaries and systems and the fragmented fields of early child development and infant mental health, early and earlier intervention, services for complex families and for those experiencing abuse or using abusive behaviours.  This has the potential to simplify the landscape and enable better decision-making by those involved in the commissioning, delivery and evaluation of programmes, projects and services for all those impacted by domestic violence and abuse.

With funding from National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the Policy Research Unit for Children and Families (CPRU) at University College London (UCL) has led the development of linked Core Outcome Sets for family and child-focused interventions for child maltreatment and domestic violence. 

The Trust has been a leading member of the project development team since 2015 and, more recently, within the Steering Group overseeing the UCL-led project which brought together the views of all those involved and affected, including those with lived experience, to form a consensus and the final Core Outcome Sets in September 2021 (in time to influence the development of the new Supporting Families outcomes framework). 

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/children-policy research/sites/children_policy_research/files/cos_brief_projectcomplete_110522.pdf 

Since then, the UCL team and Steering Group successfully applied for Home Office funding to explore how measurement tools in common use currently fit across the domestic abuse Core Outcome Set – this work was completed in March 2022.  Most recently, the Home Office has included the need to demonstrate delivery against the Core Outcome Set for Children Affected by Domestic Abuse within proposals for the current round of their Children Affected by Domestic Abuse (CADA) funding.

The Trust is working with the project team to plan the next steps for the project.

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Domestic Abuse Act Statutory Guidance recognises needs of babies and their parents, in response to partnership campaign

On 8 July 2022, the Government published Statutory Guidance to accompany the Domestic Abuse Act which had come into law in 2021.

Among the welcome measures in the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 were a clearer and more comprehensive definition of domestic abuse and recognition that children who are exposed to domestic abuse actually experience domestic abuse as victims in their own right – they are not merely witnesses.

The statutory guidance published in 2022 aims to ensure that the complexity of domestic abuse is properly understood and to promote a ‘whole system’ response.

During the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill through the House of Lords, The For Baby’s Sake Trust led a campaign, in partnership with the Institute of Health Visiting and the First 1001 Days Movement, seeking amendments to recognise the specific needs of babies, including unborn babies, and their parents.

We argued that a baby’s first 1001 days from conception to age two are a time when domestic abuse is highly prevalent and particularly harmful to the baby and the parents. Equally, this is a time when parents want and need trauma-informed and attachment-focused support to break the cycle of domestic abuse and give their baby the best start.  We called for specific reference to this in legislation to overcome the ‘baby blind spot’ in public policy, because decision-makers regularly overlook the needs of babies and their parents when designing services and systems for children and families.

Our Parliamentary Briefing prompted two hour-long debates in the House of Lords on these issues, at Committee Stage and then at Report Stage, led through cross-party amendments tabled by Baroness Stroud and Baroness Armstrong of Hilltop.  You can read the briefing issued to Peers at Committee Stage here and listen to the full debate on the amendments.

The For Baby’s Sake Trust, in partnership with the Institute of Health Visiting and the First 1001 Days Movement, coordinated a letter to the Home Office Minister, Baroness Williams of Trafford, signed by over 70 signatories, advocating for babies, including unborn babies, and their parents. You can read that letter here.

Although this campaign did not result in changes to the Domestic Abuse Act, it did cause Baroness Williams on behalf of the Government to commit to ensuring that the Statutory Guidance would recognise explicitly the needs of babies, including pre-birth, and of their parents, again starting in pregnancy.

This commitment was honoured through the publication of the Statutory Guidance in July 2022. In particular, as the extracts below demonstrate, our recommendations are reflected in three sections of the guidance: Impact on Child; Pregnancy; and Integrated Response. 

Extract from ‘Impact on Child’ section

Children and young people of different ages may respond in different ways to domestic abuse, depending on their stage of development. Babies and young children may be particularly vulnerable when living with domestic abuse, with protective factors often minimal for this age group (unable to seek help or remove themselves from danger, often ‘out of sight’ of regular contact with professionals, dependent on others and may not be able to recognise abusive behaviour). Babies experiencing the effects of domestic abuse may be more likely to have difficulty sleeping, have higher levels of excess crying and disrupted attachment…….

Extract from ‘Pregnancy’ section

Domestic abuse experienced during pregnancy in utero and in the earliest years is harmful to birth outcomes and babies’ early development. Whilst pregnancy may increase risk of abuse, it should also be recognised that the interaction with health professionals may provide an opportunity for women to seek support, as well as for professionals to reach out to women who may be experiencing domestic abuse. Health and social care professionals should also be alert to the need to offer support and safeguarding to the child post-birth if necessary.

Access to trauma-informed support during pregnancy, post-birth and into childhood can be of benefit to adult and child victims.

Extract from ‘Integrated response’ section

Health services should be encouraged and supported to set up robust partnerships with local domestic abuse specialist services and build referral pathways that are clear and easily accessible, to ensure staff feel confident to respond to victims. The NHS has a key role in providing care and support to victims of domestic abuse, including children, and babies through a wide range of health care services, including services for physical and mental health.

You can access the full Statutory Guidance here.

Marking the publication of the Statutory Guidance, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, said: “Domestic abuse has a horrific impact on victims, children and society more broadly. I welcome the publication of the statutory guidance which gives us a detailed blueprint for how we understand domestic abuse and how we improve our response to it. It’s essential that we all work together to tackle domestic abuse and take a holistic approach to this issue which the guidance helps sets out.”

The For Baby’s Sake Trust concurs with the Domestic Abuse Commissioner about the need for a holistic approach.  We would add an emphasis that this holistic approach needs to be trauma-informed and take a whole-family approach, including by seizing the unique opportunities to empower parents during the vital time of their baby’s first 1001 days, starting in the womb.  We welcome the Statutory Guidance as an important step forward and encourage decision-makers to have babies and their parents front and centre of their vision for breaking the cycle of domestic abuse.

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The For Baby’s Sake Trust’s trauma insight training supports practice development for multi-agency professionals

The For Baby’s Sake Trust is developing new ways to respond to multi-agency and multi-disciplinary professionals who want to draw on the learning and ways of working within For Baby’s Sake to develop their own practice.

One way we are doing this is through providing introductory and bespoke training to help equip professionals working with parents, babies and children in need of trauma-informed support.

Salford Council commissioned the Trust to deliver trauma-informed and attachment- focused training to social workers in Salford and Stockport, based on For Baby’s Sake. This commission was funded through a Children’s Social Care COVID-19 Regional Recovery programme funded by the Department for Education, recognising the need to address the longer-term impact of COVID-19 for children and families.

Feedback from social workers included appreciation for the ‘fantastic tools’, opportunities to ‘reflect and think about planning’ for parents, especially in traumatic circumstances such as when it is necessary to remove their baby, and how social workers can protect themselves when vulnerable to vicarious trauma or triggers because of the social workers’ own childhood experiences.

In March 2022, we also completed the delivery of a series of ‘Trauma Insight’ introductory sessions to over  200 multi-agency professionals across Hertfordshire, with attendees feeding back on having valued the learning, including how to put trauma-informed work into practice.

Unresolved trauma can negatively affect every aspect of life, so discovering the root of  fears, insecurities and sabotaging life patterns is crucial to enhance the possibility for recovery and sustained change.

The training for Salford and Stockport and the ‘Trauma Insight’ sessions in Hertfordshire introduced The For Baby’s Sake Trust’s suite of Trauma Insight Resources.  These practical and strengths-based tools:

  • Provide clarity on adverse childhood experiences and the impact of unresolved trauma
  • Offer advice, guidance, and examples of how to open up difficult, often avoided conversations for professionals working with families or children presenting with multiple and complex needs
  • Include separate and complementary resources for those working who work with parents and those who work with children
  • Are relevant to those engaging with parents, children, young people or families in whatever capacity

We had developed these tools in 2021, funded through the COVID recovery Community Match Challenge Fund. Our design approach included a co-production element with two key partners with a particular reach into families affected by domestic abuse and adverse childhood experiences:

  • The Association of Safeguarding Partners (TASP): the charitable membership organisation for local Safeguarding Partnerships and related bodies and partnerships, which promote the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people
  • Home-Start UK: the national body for 207 local Home-Start charities, which support families with young children through trained volunteers and expert support

 

We ran focus groups with TASP members and local Home-Start coordinators before finalising the suite of trauma insight resources and then held partnership webinars, reaching over 409 logins to a TASP forum and almost 50 Home-Start staff members, to launch the resources and explore the practice of trauma-informed work. TASP and Home-Start both share the Trust’s ambition to build on this foundation.  Feedback from the webinars has been very positive, for example:

  • “Given me some ideas for a particular case that I’m struggling to get the young person to open up. Thank you. I’ll also be looking at the resources to see if I can get more ideas. (Social Worker at TASP webinar)
  • “I found this really informative and I’m looking forward to having a further look at the resources, from a Domestic Violence & Abuse perspective we see trauma every day and the impact that this has upon victims and their children. I am really keen to not always blame the abusing person and we have started to take a trauma-informed response to their circumstances, the reason for abusing and using timelines to look at the abusing person’s life and why they behave the way they do to support behaviour change and recovery (Domestic Abuse Support professional at TASP webinar)
  • “The tools would fit in perfectly…really helpful…can’t wait to get my hands on them” (Home-Start Coordinator at Home-Start webinar)

The Trauma Insight Resources, comprising explainer animated films, diagrams and guidance (Trauma Insight: Overview; Growing Up With Adversity – the Adversity Cycle; Trauma Insight: Children; Trauma Insight: Parents), are available for download from the Tools and Resources section of our website

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For Baby’s Sake wins prestigious award

Thursday 7th December, 2021

The Centre for Justice Innovation awarded the Nick Crichton Award for Family Justice for 2021 to For Baby’s Sake, the programme created by The For Baby’s Sake Trust to break cycles of domestic abuse and give babies the best start in life.

The Centre for Justice Innovation puts practitioners and evidence at the heart of its work for a fairer and more effective justice system, which it believes should be focused on solving the issues that drive crime and social harm. 

Its Award for Family Justice, judged by an expert panel, is made in the name of Nick Crichton who was one of the most influential family judges of his generation and the pioneer of specialist Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDACs).  

The expert judging panel has chosen For Baby’s Sake as the 2021 winner of the Nick Crichton Award for Family Justice.  The award was announced on 7 December 2021. 

Amanda McIntyre, CEO of The For Baby’s Sake Trust, said, ‘we are honoured that the Centre for Justice Innovation has chosen For Baby’s Sake as the 2021 winner of the Nick Crichton Award for Family Justice.  Domestic abuse devastates families, as those working in family courts and criminal courts know only too well.  The Nick Crichton Award for Family Justice is a wonderful testament to For Baby’s Sake, which takes a unique, evidence-based approach to empowering parents to break cycles of domestic abuse and give their baby the best start in life.’

For Baby’s Sake is included within the Centre for Justice Innovation’s map of innovation and the briefing can be found here: https://justiceinnovation.org/project/babys-sake

 

 

 

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