Establishing an early intervention and prevention service for children, young people and families in Salford.

Themes this local practice example relates to:

  • General resources
  • Local area early intervention strategies
  • Early Help

Basic details

Organisation submitting example

Children’s Services, Salford City Council

Local authority/local area:

Salford City Council

The context and rationale

Summary of the service redesign

The re-design of services within Salford has made Early Intervention and Prevention a priority within the authority highlighting the important role it plays in improving outcomes for the most vulnerable children and families. The re-design has created a single management structure for a range of frontline support services which has simplified decision-making and accountability whilst simultaneously reducing the cost of the overall service by 36% (2011-12).

Salford City Council’s Children’s Services Directorate has recently redesigned the delivery of the Early Intervention and Prevention Service. This is a new service which has brought together, strengthened and enhanced, a range of existing services under a single management structure, business plan and outcome framework. This re-design has taken place within the context of a need to strengthen and improve safeguarding processes and to make efficiencies across non-specialist services.

It has drawn upon a number of recent research documents and evidence-based programmes to design a comprehensive programme of work which, if successful, will improve outcomes for children at less cost. For example, Professor Eileen Munro’s recent report on child protection and her call for ‘early help’ for families, alongside Graham Allen’s independent review which sets out the case for early intervention. 

Work in the service area is focused on whole family engagement, assessment and intervention for children and young people aged 0-19 years. It works to promote collaboration with families and a range of partners to give support when it can make the most difference. The partnership arrangements and shared costs and benefits approach is crucial in the drive for efficiencies. By providing a range of low cost, early interventions we can hopefully prevent the need for more costly interventions later on.

The practice

Service re-design
In Salford, a locality footprint has been used to deliver some services. There are four localities in the city. To complement this, we have clustered the Children’s Centres around the locality teams and included additional staff. 

As such, the Early Intervention and Prevention (EIP) Service is predominately delivered through the four locality teams. These teams are made up of a range of practitioners including:

• Family Support Workers
• Education Welfare Officers
• Brief Intervention Therapists
• Family Group Conferencing Coordinator
• Parenting Practitioners
• Children’s Centre Workers

The locality teams are managed by four Practice Managers who oversee the day to day operational duties of the teams and are supported by Common Assessment Framework (CAF) Coordinators and staff within clusters of Children’s Centres.

The Children’s Centre portfolio in Salford has also been restructured within the change programme. Sixteen individual centres with satellites have been replaced by a more sustainable hub model, which support the EIP locality teams (Locality Map). The number of Children’s Centre Managers has been reduced by 50% and this has made significant reductions in other management costs by combining the Children’s Centres and locality team structures. 

The management of these services has been simplified and streamlined to provide clarity and make savings. Overall, the restructure of the service has reduced cost by £2.4 million (36%) this financial year (2011-12), whilst increasing the number of operational staff who work face-to-face with children and families (EIP Structure). The focus has been on improving efficiency and effectiveness.

Early intervention service offer
The service re-design has used national and local evidence about what works to develop a number of projects within the service which are proven early intervention and prevention strategies. The projects provide an opportunity to deliver evidence-based interventions, trial innovative ways of working and work in collaboration with key partners. They range from evidence-based parenting programmes and family group conferencing to providing support to families affected by substance and alcohol misuse or domestic abuse. 

As part of the menu of support on offer by the Early Intervention and Prevention Service other key programmes of work delivered across all localities include:

• Family Support
Packages of support to families as part of a CAF, Team Around the Child, or Child Protection Plan.

• Education Welfare
Support to schools and parents re: attendance issues, fast track of non-school attendance prosecutions.

• Brief Intervention Therapy
Solution focused family group work when there is a risk of family breakdown or exclusion from school.

• Funded Daycare
A panel to identify 0-11 year old children in need, or potentially at risk, who would benefit from a multi-agency package of support including a funded childcare place.

These workstreams have been developed with partners and will be closely monitored to ensure results. They need to demonstrate success both in improved outcomes and efficiencies across the service.

Expansion of the service through integrated, multi-agency working
Part of the service re-design includes the expansion of the EIP locality teams to include a wider range of agencies in order to provide more holistic support to families and address the main causes of family poverty. This includes partners from housing, skills and work, and health. This new, integrated way of working is being piloted in the West and South locality teams first, with roll out to the rest of the city planned to be complete by December 2011.

In this way families will benefit from improved communication and partnership work. They will no longer have to navigate through a complex network of services; instead they will be able to access key services they require using one point of contact and receive an integrated response.

The roll out of the integrated locality teams has strategic backing from each partner organisation and is being led by an EIP Project Delivery Team made up of representatives from each service area. Workforce development will be key to successful frontline delivery. Joint referral, assessment and case management procedures are currently being devised, as well as the development of a new culture within the service that supports an integrated, early intervention approach. This is a promising start to what should be a more an effective and economic way of working, which will lead to joint commissioning arrangements in the future. 

Service restructure – approved by Cabinet and came into effect April 2011. Appointment of all new staff through redeployment, internal and external adverts to be complete by September/October 2011. 
Integrated teams – piloted started in West locality July 2011, with roll out to the rest of the city by December 2011.

Achievements so far

Process and systems
• New referral and assessment process.
• New reporting criteria and performance management arrangements.
• New shared outcomes framework.
• Shared management structure.

Developing capability to look at efficiency
• Restructure to look at essential roles/responsibilities, e.g. removing tiers of management.
• Financial Recovery Plan with targets for each service area.
• Early Intervention and Prevention (EIP) Development Officers appointed to look at efficiency and outcomes.

Using evidence to make decisions
• Detailed mapping - data is available about where the communities/families in most need are located. We are using this information to profile the Children’s Centre Clusters, EIP locality teams and parenting groups.
• We are using national and international research around what works in terms of interventions and programmes of work. We have developed a menu of evidence-based interventions to drive this agenda forward.
• Performance management systems are being revised to ensure the focus is on demonstrating outcomes and results for children and families. A report card is being devised to capture the impact of EIP within the context of improving outcomes and reducing the pressure on specialist services. This data will be used to inform future practice and service delivery.

Multi-agency commissioning
There is a need for strong partnership working and a move towards developing creative commissioning arrangements working with key partners. 

The shared outcomes framework will be used to measure performance, informing commissioning arrangements and service specifications. We are still in the process of developing the key performance measures and indicators, but have established the higher level outcomes we wish to achieve through integrated working. Broadly these are to:
- Reduce the number of families living in poverty.
- Improve school attendance and attainment.
- Improve health and wellbeing of children and families.
- Improve sustainability of housing tenancy.
- Increase in wider neighbourhood satisfaction and enhanced feelings of safety.

Please refer to Draft Shared Outcomes Framework for further details.

We also have a Contract Overview Group. This groupis responsible for ensuring intelligent commissioning or best value results from contracted work.

Consistency and capacity
Salford has developed ‘thresholds on need,’ based upon a continuum of identified needs and services in order to promote early identification of concerns. This approach has led to the development of four levels that take into account the different stages of need and types of intervention which are available to all children and their families. 

Thresholds of need:
• Level 1 – Universal
• Level 2a – Common Assessment Framework
• Level 2b – Team around the child 
• Level 3 – Children in need
• Level 4 – Child protection

The work of the EIP Service primarily targets those children and young people considered to be at Levels 2a and 2b. It also provides seamless support to those children and families at a higher level of risk.

The promotion of the thresholds and improving partner understanding forms part of the Safeguarding Action Plan. Another action is to embed the usage of CAF across the city as a tool to effectively inform early intervention. The EIP Service takes a lead role in delivering both these actions through the promotion of multi-agency CAF training, co-authoring of CAFs and joint service delivery. This shared approach and ‘one team’ response should promote consistency.


Overall the restructure of the service has reduced cost by £2.4 million (36%) this financial year (2011-12), whilst increasing the number of operational staff who work face-to-face with children and families.

Key leadership behaviour characteristics

The following core behaviours have been identified as part of successful elements of leadership (see National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services/C4EO (2011). Resourceful leadership: how directors of children’s services improve outcomes for children.Full report. Nottingham: NCSL see 

Openness to possibilities 
Initially the news that this service area would lose 36% of its funding could have been seen as a negative message. By focusing on the positive and looking at the opportunities for refocusing on the most important elements, such as face to face work with families, we were able to motivate staff through the changes.

The ability to collaborate
Collaborative advantage was a theme throughout the redesign of this service. We have an Early Intervention and Prevention Forum which will support and challenge progress. Over 40 partners were involved in developing the forum and the shared outcomes framework, with a manager from Public Health appointed as chair of the forum. These partnerships have enabled a more comprehensive support service to be developed to families. 

Focusing on results
The service is committed to results and improving outcomes for children and families. We have a shared outcomes framework and are developing a report card which looks at what we have delivered, how well we have done it and what difference we have made. 

The ability to simplify
The redesign removed fourteen management posts from the staffing structure. This process enabled more resources to be allocated to the delivery of frontline services and at the same time created a simplified singular management structure for the whole service. This clarified roles and accountability. The whole service works to one business plan, strategy and action plan and had removed several others from the service. The service has aligned its reporting/ performance systems and has begun to deliver to one agreed outcomes framework.

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