Our teams and family safeguarding model

The work our social work teams do and how they do it.

"My manager and I have a mutually trusted relationship, she really listens and has my back."

Social Worker, Children’s Disabilities Team

Our Family Safeguarding Model

We have redesigned our children's social care to implement the Family Safeguarding Model.

The Family Safeguarding Model is a way of working with families so that they can stay together and children can remain safely at home, where possible. Using this model, we work in a more collaborative way where parents are motivated to identify the changes needed within their own families, helping to achieve better outcomes for children.

The model supports children's social workers to tackle the challenges of children's safeguarding, particularly domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health, through multi-disciplinary teams that can work with the adults in the family. This whole family approach to child protection provides help and support to children from different professions working as one team.

The model does not significantly change the current early help and targeted support services, but it does co-locate these teams with the Family Safeguarding teams where possible.

As part of this model, we are working with parents to build on strengths and identify positive changes by:

  • Motivational interviewing - a strengths-based conversational approach that encourages families to choose change rather than imposing it on them.
"I found the motivation interviewing training the most enjoyable and helpful training that I have been on in my 22 years with West Sussex County Council. Not only was the trainer knowledgeable about the subject, he was inspiring.
For me what I found interesting was that it is about getting others to come up with solutions, to help them to reach a point where they could possibly contemplate change.
The first time I used this was on a member of staff that I had to have a very difficult conversation with and the outcome literally overwhelmed me; they came to their own conclusion and talked about how they would do it differently next time. I do not believe that this would have happened had I not approached it in using motivation interviewing.
I have been able to apply my learning to not only my professional life but also my personal life and it is an invaluable tool and use it daily."

Madeline, Team Manager, Family Time Contact Service

  • Multi-disciplinary teams - a team of specialists working together to address parental domestic abuse, mental health and substance misuse.
  • The family safeguarding workbook and family programme - an assessment of need leading to a programme of tailored support.
  • Group case supervision - monthly supervision for each family with input from every professional working with them.

What difference does the Family Safeguarding Model approach make?

  • Families are offered the right support at the right time to help them to reduce the risks to their children and enable children to stay at home where it’s safe to do so.
  • Schools and local community partners play a key role in identifying and supporting families who need early help.
  • Our whole-family approach reduces the number of children coming into care.
  • The approach focuses on increasing the engagement of families with professionals and information sharing between professionals is strengthened.
  • Health and education outcomes for children is improved.
  • Social workers are able to spend more time working with families and less time on administration.

Our teams

  • Assessment and Intervention team

    Our Assessment and Intervention service is based in Crawley, Bognor Regis and Worthing. Fast-paced, busy and supportive, the teams assess and work with children and families and will intervene where children need support, to provide help at an earlier stage.

    The teams also:

    Team members work directly with children and their families while also partnering with agencies, including the police and health, to ensure the best possible outcome with sustainable, positive change.

    The service ensures a strong link with our Early Help colleagues to promote local community support for children and families when social care no longer needs to be involved.

  • Family Safeguarding Team

    Our busy and aspirational Family Safeguarding Team works with children and families at the point in their journey where there are safeguarding concerns.

    Based in Chichester, Bognor Regis, Worthing, Horsham, Crawley and Burgess Hill, team members:

    • work within a positive, diverse, nurturing environment where successes are celebrated and individuals within the team are supported to grow and develop
    • undertake meaningful, transparent, direct work with children and their families to ensure the most positive outcomes, and act to reduce risks
    • play a key role in child protection, child in need cases and safety planning for children
    • work with children throughout a court process - from pre-proceedings to initial court hearings and finally court proceedings - to ensure there is consistent support for the child throughout
    • work with children who return to their birth families, where it is safe to do so.

    Clare tells us about her role as a social worker in the Family Safeguarding Team.

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    "Working within West Sussex is good because I feel that our managers value us, that we really work well within teams and we support each other within teams as Social Workers. I feel that there is a lot of flexibility in the way we work as Social Workers. I feel that West Sussex is the best place to work and live."

    Social Worker, Family Safeguarding Team

  • Children We Care For service

    Our dedicated Children We Care For service has a passion for making a difference to our looked after children, alongside an interest and experience of the adoption process.

    The team works with and support children who:

    • remain in long-term care where it is not safe for them to return home
    • may be placed for adoption
    • are subject to a Special Guardianship Order, helping them achieve permanent homes through reunification with their families
    • are leaving care.

    With a focus on outcomes-based care planning for children, including access to an in-house therapeutic assessment and intervention team, they work with young children and teenagers to support them to achieve and plan to build their lives as young adults ready to leave care and live independently.

    Laura and Mallory tell us more about the Children We Care For service.

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  • Children's Asylum team

    With Gatwick Airport within our borders, the Children's Asylum team provides a child protection duty response to the airport, and manages new arrivals of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children across the county.

    The team is small and specialised, with social workers who champion best practice with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and complete age assessments.

    Working in partnership with a range of agencies, including a dedicated mental health practitioner, the Children’s Asylum team completes high-quality and timely assessments of need. These ensure good care and planning so that this vulnerable group have the right support, accommodation and legal advice, and their health, education and care needs are met.

  • MASH and Integrated Front Door team

    As the first point of contact with children and families, our social workers in the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and Integrated Front Door can influence their entire journeys.

    As a fast-moving service, everyone has a voice in relation to the development of the service and can make a difference to delivering the best outcomes for children and families.

    The MASH and Integrated Front Door team continues to develop practice and build strong relationships with a wide range of partner agencies. These include police, health and housing professionals who are co-located and working together to ensure the best outcomes for children and young people.

  • Fostering team

    Fostering social workers act in a supervisory manner for foster carers and usually work across West Sussex. The Fostering team:

    • undertakes assessments of all notified fostering arrangements
    • promotes awareness of fostering across the county with partner agencies and residents
    • ensures all ongoing fostering arrangements are supported and visited within regulatory time frames.
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  • Adoption team

    The Adoption team works with prospective adoptive families, from adoption recruitment to support pre-adoption order, and in partnership with colleagues from across Children’s Services and our regional adoption agency, Adoption South East.

    The team also has social workers who specialise in Special Guardianship Orders and assessments.

  • Children with Disabilities team

    The Children with Disabilities team provides a specialist service for children with more complex, lifelong disabilities and autism.

    Members of the team:

    • work with children, their families and other agencies to meet their assessed needs and help them achieve their potential
    • provide ongoing help and support to children in need, children we care for or children in need of protection.

    Teams based in Horsham and Crawley cover the north of the county, while those based in Worthing and Bognor Regis cover the south.

    We also have countywide teams that cover the whole of West Sussex.

  • Conferencing and Reviewing service

    The Conferencing and Reviewing service work with children who are subject to child protection plans and with the children that we care for. The team chair conferences and review meetings, ensuring that all our children have plans that are outcome focused and are achieving positive impact.

    The team provide ongoing oversight, leadership and assurance, driving aspirational practice and improvements across the system.

    The team is county wide and responsible for:

    • chairing child protection case conferences
    • chairing reviews for the children that we care for
    • ongoing oversight, assurance and impact in driving children’s plans throughout the child’s journey
    • providing specialist practice knowledge to support operational teams
    • generating system wide learning through completing auditing of children’s files.

    Find additional information.


Please note these videos use YouTube's automated captions, which we have checked for accuracy.

Elements of the family safeguarding model

3 mins

The benefits of the family safeguarding model at WSCC

4 mins

How the family safeguarding model is working in practice at WSCC

3 mins

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