Enabling the prevelance of nurturing relationships
There are cultural, perceptual and bureaucratic barriers that disable social services practitioners to continue to have nurturing relationships with young people who are leaving care. The loss of these relationships means some young people don’t have positive support systems to turn to.
In 2014 the Scottish Government published the Children and Young People Scotland Act that introduced ‘Continuing Care’ which means local authorities must look after young people for longer (until they are 21-25 years old). This provision has been legislated for in a sector in which public sector budgets are being cut, and in which the barriers to developing and maintaining nurturing, meaningful relationships need to be addressed.
A website was launched alongside a communications strategy to ensure people knew about this work and invite them to engage. Several opportunities to get involved were offered. These included submitting evidence and personal stories about how relationships can be positively supported during times of transition and inviting people who wanted to challenge barriers that prevent the continuation of positive relationships with young people to submit an application to the Relationship Matter JAM.
Five teams comprising managers, practitioners, young people, a facilitator and service designer were selected. The barriers they focused upon were:
– Fostering more emotional connections
– Judgement from other staff
– Needing permission from managers
– Navigating personal and professional boundaries
– Enabling young people to keep in touch
Responses to these barriers were prototyped by the end of a day and filmed so how these prototypes could enable the prevalence of nurturing relationships could be communicated with staff in each organisation.
- Raised awareness about evidence that indicates how relationships are positively supported during times of transition in people’s lives
- Supported young people and practitioners develop ideas that address obstacles that prevent young people develop and continue relationships with significant people in their lives as they leave care
- Created a collective of people who want to demonstrate how practitioners and organisations can prioritise relational based practice
- Supported practitioners implement four service designs
- Relationships Matter website
- Evidence and personal story repository about how relationships can be positively supported
- Video about JAM process
- Videos of each prototype
- Storify of JAM tweets
- Blogs from each service about implementation process
- A tool to help people talk about the tensions, assumptions, anxieties, benefits and practicalities of continuing relationships with young people as they leave care
The four service designs that were implemented and are being scaled include:
- Care Visions Why Not? Service and Center for Excellence for Looked After Children will be working together over the next three years to evidence the outcomes of the moral adoption service model they provide.
- Tremanna residential home will continue to develop different learning and development opportunities for staff to explore and embed relational-based practice as young people leave care.
- Includem will broaden the practice of encouraging young people to keep in contact with practitioners after they have left, and embed the practice of staff proactively keeping in contact with young people.
- Hot Chocolate Trust will continue to support conversations about the importance of love in young people’s lives.
Each of these services were invited to present at the Center for Excellence for Looked After Children annual conference to share the development and impact of their service designs.