£5.6 million project aims to reunite Rotherham families

By Gareth Dennison | 10/08/2018

£5.6 million project aims to reunite Rotherham families

A £5.6 million project to get looked after children back with their families has won approval from the council.

The five-year scheme — called MST-Fit — has seen a 75 per cent success rate in Leeds.

Rotherham Borough Council’s children’s department is forecasting a £9.5 million overspend this year, mainly because of the spiralling numbers of children in care.

MST-Fit works with youngsters aged 11 to 15, helping with behaviour management, new skills and learning to live with family again.

There are two phases — three months in local authority care and up to 20 weeks’ support in the home after they move back.

Cllr Gordon Watson (pictured) said: “The idea is that 12 children at a time would be taken from residential care, put into a specific base with the intention to return either to their parents or to wider family members.

“The really important bit is that we know when children move out of residential care, they do better in life.

“It’s evidence-based, we are not just taking a punt on this. It will improve outcomes for our looked-after children, because they will cease to be looked after.”

The council has identified an initial 24 children — out of the 67 in out-of-area placements — who would be suitable for MST-Fit, which stands for multi-systemic therapy–family integrated transitions.

RMBC is waiting for final approval of a £425,000 Government grant to help with the costs of the project.

The project was approved at Monday’s cabinet meeting by commissioner Julie Kenny.
 
A report to members said: “If the work to reunite the young person with their family is unsuccessful, an alternative long-term placement in fostering or back into a suitable residential placement will be found. 

“The skills developed during the programme will support the young person to thrive and achieve better outcomes even if they are not able to return home.”

A final decision on the funding model will be made by finance director Judith Badger, who will make a decision after the grant bid outcome is confirmed.

Cllr Watson said: “The savings we make will pay for the programme.”


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