Policy makers and health and social care professionals have been working tirelessly for many years to actively improve outcomes for children and their families. There have been many improvements and developments in services and many success stories along the way. However, sadly many developments have occurred in response to a tragedy of abuse or neglect by parents or the services designed to support them in their parenting role.
The benefits of multi-agency working are well documented in the literature and supported by developments in social policy. It would in fact, be rare to find a health or social care agency in the public, private or voluntary sector who did not consider themselves to be involved in a multi-agency approach. Some of the specific benefits of multi-agency workinginclude: less overlap of service provision; more cohesive services; cost saving measures; improved outcomes for children and families; and easier or quicker access to services. Effective multi-agency working is also thought to safeguard children from abuse and neglect.
Often, when parents are asked about what specific support has helped them to change or to seek further support, the answer relates to a specific individual who they have developed a relationship with. This may be a teacher, a social worker, a support worker, a health visitor, or indeed any other professional with whom the family have connected with. The importance of these relationships in effecting change is often underestimated – qualifications and training of these professionals should be reviewed to include specific work on challenging people’s attitudes, morals and beliefs, to ensure that professionals are able to make these connections with families and therefore be the architects of change.
When a family has a supportive and trusting relationship with a professional and when this professional in surrounded by and interlinked with a group of equally committed professionals all working to achieve change for that family, great things can happen.
Obviously a range of services, supported by adequate funding are needed to assist children and their families, but many improvements can be made by merely challenging the styles of working and adopting a more customerfocussed approach to care.
Have you thought about how you treat the families that you work with?
How effective is multi-agency working in your area?
What do you think works well and what needs improving?
Depending on your area, you may be familiar with:
Although language might vary, and the specific approach may differ, the goal is the same – to work effectively together to safeguard children and improve outcomes.
You can read more about the different ways we can work together here.