There is a need and appetite among those affected by domestic abuse (DA) for a response to DA which considers the needs of the whole family, and the wider context in which DA is taking place. Historic approaches have not effectively met this need.
A clear theory of change, visible leadership, realistic project planning and transparent decision-making will help to support innovation in a complex system.
High levels of staff turnover are a key challenge facing children’s services. It is essential that this is accounted for when designing and implementing new approaches. Programmes should be well documented, with regular updates provided to staff on progress and relevance to the wider service. Relevant training should be delivered consistently and included when onboarding new staff.
Interventions which focus on understanding the dynamics and relationships within families can support family members to make positive changes but require active follow-up and appropriate step-down provision to help sustain this progress.
Engaging victims and perpetrators of DA in intensive programme-based work can be difficult to deliver at scale. This is in part due to a disparity in the amount of resources available and the amount of resources required to deliver the work effectively, as well as challenges in engaging all victims or perpetrators who are referred.
Embedding staff from other services, such as the police, housing, and mental health, within children’s services can help to improve the speed and appropriateness of the response to families’ needs.
Ensuring courses are safely accessible for victims is vital. Making support available at times which suit women who work and offering support for those who might otherwise rely on their partners for transport are key considerations.
Cost-benefit analysis estimates that the Slough Children’s Services Trust’s (SCST) Innovation Programme costs more to deliver than was saved through reduced time young people spent at each statutory status following the interventions. However, this analysis did not consider other benefits to young people and their families that the programme may have contributed to.
It may be challenging for DA interventions to realise short- or medium-term cost savings, even if they were to result in better outcomes and longer-term cost savings. Interventions can be time-intensive, require consistent training, and sustained input. They also intend to provide more support than was previously available. Certain benefits take longer to realise and are difficult to quantify, such as the future impact of witnessing domestic abuse as a child.
Download our full report below. Slough Children's Services Trust Innovation Programme was part of the Department for Education's Children's Social Care Innovation Programme.