We are excited to be expanding in this important approach to assessment work… And yes, we at AGFS would argue that they are worth it. They are worth it because they can help avoid separating babies from their parent. Secondly, the financial cost to local authorities of residential assessment unit accommodation, or indeed of long term care placements, can be much higher. Thirdly, children and families who experience even temporary separation tend to pay a very high emotional price for the rest of their lives. Crucially, Community Based Assessments offer assessing professionals a ‘real life picture’ of parental abilities to function within their own community and to meet their children’s needs (alongside parenting support) safely and consistently- where possible.
In our experience, for many financially challenged local authorities, committing financial resources to intensive family support pre-proceedings, can be a difficult thing to have approved. It is no wonder, as most local authorities in their 2016-2017 financial year had found it unsustainable to provide services to their communities within their ever shrinking budgets. However, it could be argued that short term savings are then likely to be soon outweighed by long term costs from the point of taking families to court. Preventative work with high-risk families, needs to, in our opinion, come out of the shadows. This is especially true for non-English speaking families, whose vulnerabilities are compounded by cultural differences and often their lack of understanding of parenting norms and expectation as applicable in the UK. Many such families also find themselves isolated and desperate for help.
Community based, intensive parenting support is, of course, not a ‘magic solution’ in every case. Not every parent will acknowledge professional concerns or agree to intensive support, nor will they always commit to change. However, research shows that most parents of young children, and babies especially, tend to present with a very strong motivation to work in partnership with statutory services and any support that is offered. Similarly, young children and babies especially, are known to most depend on their mothers for their most basic needs, including attachment and, in non-English speaking cases, cultural and language identity development.
AGFS offers nationwide, high intensity family support and assessment services, including in community settings. Our organisation is able to, and is in fact regularly providing such services across England and Wales , on 24/7 basis where required . For more information and to discuss how AGFS can tailor-make services to any specific family’s needs, please call or email us.