The operational heart of our service, our front line teams that work tirelessly to improve the lives of children and young people in Sandwell.
Open the links below to hear from our Heads of Service and read more about the part of the world they represent.
Our Community Operational Groups (COGs) operate based in the locality of the town in which they support. COG workers deliver Targeted Early Help to children and families within Sandwell. This offer is within Tier 3 of the threshold document, offering invaluable family support and practical advice to families. COGs work incredibly well in partnership with our stakeholders owing to their community based approach and as such are able to form a multi-agency approach and a real ‘togetherness’ approach to meeting the needs of our Sandwell families. COGs also co-work with statutory services to meet the needs of families where necessary. We are incredibly proud of the work we do to support families and where possible we strive to prevent them from requiring a statutory service in future, by equipping families with the right support which they are able to sustain with the input of their extended families and other partner agencies who may be involved.
Our Emergency Duty Service (EDS) respond to emergency situations for children within Sandwell and those placed elsewhere by Sandwell Children’s Trust; some children are already allocated to Sandwell Children’s Trust and some are new referrals. EDS will also carry out visits requested by service areas within the Trust in instances such as where families are going through care proceedings and in order to complete return home interviews for young people who were still missing as of close of play on Friday, who would not be seen within the 72 hour timescale if EDS did not respond. Our EDS service is extremely effective at keeping our Sandwell children safe outside of usual work hours, on evenings, weekends and bank holidays.
Sandwell Multi-Agency Safeguarding HUB (MASH) receive all the referrals for Sandwell children and families which require to be responded to within a working day (Working Together 2018) and also receive calls from concerned professionals, anonymous callers and members of the public. Following Manager oversight and direction, Qualified Social Workers complete the relevant screening to recommend the right service for children and families which is proportionate to the referral concern, history, information from involved professionals and family. MASH also consists of professionals from various designations: Health, Housing, Education, Probation, Adult Mental Health, Early Help, Woman’s Aid and Police (CSE, Exploitation, Domestic Abuse and Public Protection Unit Officers) to enable a wealth of information sharing (where appropriate) to ensure the families receive the service that is most suited to their needs. MASH may give advice to the parent or referrer, consider the need for Targeted Early Help intervention or determine that a statutory assessment is required.
Horizons is Sandwell’s bespoke exploitation team which was created alongside our exploited children (through participation) and launched in 2019. Horizons operate a co-working model (co-work with social workers) for our highest risk young people and also respond to all missing children within Sandwell. Horizons utilise a relationship based approach and as such strive to ensure the young person is visited by the same Horizons worker on each occasion they go missing, to ensure that the young person feels at ease sharing information which will assist us to keep them and others safe. Horizons complete direct work and risk assessments with our young people (Scope widened to include Care Leavers until 25 years) deemed to be at the highest risk of exploitation. Children often are transferred to new social workers as they move through the service but positively they are able to maintain a relationship with one Horizons worker. High risk young people are discussed and have plans devised within the multi-agency Exploitation HUB. The HUB is chaired by the Chief Superintendent and is attended by senior staff with the ability to direct resource within their organisations. For children and young people deemed to be at Medium or Low risk these are managed via MACE (Multi-Agency Child Exploitation) with Horizons offering support and advice to involved workers/families. MACE mirrors CIN/CP meetings in the sense that professionals who are currently involved with the young person are those in attendance. Training and advice is offered routinely to partners and Trust staff by Horizons and Horizons are also linked to specific schools and COGs to give advice and reassurance as situations emerge. Horizons are invested in advocating for our young people and share their voice in forums where the young person is not present. The feedback from the young people involved with Horizons is extremely positive and we are able to measure the visible risk reduction for which we are striving to achieve. We see our children as victims first and advocate this message to all. We share our young people’s pride in Horizons which is also widely recognised by our partners.
Our Safeguarding and Assessment Team (SAAT) is made up of 5 teams of qualified social workers (and those training to be) who are responsible for working with families who are newly allocated within Sandwell Children’s Trust. SAAT undertake Single Assessments with children and families to determine the most appropriate support required and seek to obtain the right service at the right time, be that an outcome of Universal Plus support, Targeted Early Help, Child in Need, Child Protection or where necessary for children to become Looked After. SAAT aim to achieve the assessment work required within a timescale of 45 days and strive to ensure that where families do not require ongoing statutory intervention, the plan to meet their needs is devised at the earliest opportunity. SAAT is a busy and bustling service and the staff work incredibly hard to gain insight into the lives of our children and families in Sandwell to ensure the most appropriate outcome is reached. We are passionate about ensuring the right service at the right time for our children and families.
The Youth Offending Service works with children and young people aged 10-17 who have been arrested by the police to help reduce offending and reoffending.
The DECCA (Drug Education, Counselling and Confidential Advice) Team are Sandwell MBC’s young people’s alcohol, drug and tobacco service. DECCA offer a range of services including universal provision, targeted outreach and treatment.
The Trust has edge of care services including Multi-Systemic Therapy Teams, Family Solutions Team and Family Group Conferencing. These provide a range of evidence based interventions with children and families to improve outcomes.
The Trust has a Prevent Officer who works with young people who may be at risk of being drawn in to extremism, and contributes to the Council’s broader Prevent strategy.
The Care Management service works with children and young people who are subject to Child in Need or Child Protection plans. Included within the Care Management service are our Court Teams, whose work is dedicated solely to children in care proceedings. This enables strong working relationships with the Court, Cafcass and IRO colleagues and a specialist service provision tailored to ensuring that permanence plans for children are child centred and achieved in a timely way.
A further specialist team sits within the service, supporting children with disabilities. Our work is undertaken from a strengths based perspective, using a Signs of Safety model, and relational social work is at the heart of our practice, within Care Management and across the Trust.
We are passionate about listening and responding to children, families and those who work in the Trust, and promote an environment in which there is shared purpose, celebrated successes and a drive for continuous improvement across all services.