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Innovative South Yorkshire Empower and Protect programme demonstrates positive outcomes for young people

Catch22 celebrates the success of the Department for Education (DfE) Innovation funded South Yorkshire Empower and Protect programme (SYEP) in supporting children and young people who are victims, or at risk, of child sexual exploitation (CSE) to remain in their communities, as the evaluation report is published today.

20 March 2017

Funded by the DfE Innovation Fund, Catch22 partnered with Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham Local Authorities and Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, to develop SYEP. The aim was to build an innovative staffing and delivery model that enables young people who are subject to, or at high risk of, sexual exploitation to remain safely at home, or in stable foster care in South Yorkshire, rather than being placed in out-of-area or in secure accommodation. The scope of the programme was extended in the second year to work with young people with severe and multiple vulnerabilities.

The innovative programme centred on integrating mental health approaches, delivered by Catch22, working closely with statutory children’s social work practice, to ensure that mental health was a key factor when responding to young people’s risks and needs.

The model was unique, ensuring:

  • that everyone in the team was treated as a professional, including parents and carers
  • that the mental health support was delivered on the frontline, in people’s homes, in the community
  • that foster carers and other professionals were supported by being up-skilled in therapeutic techniques, promoting reflective social work practice
  • and that the programme itself was co-designed and co-produced with families, carers and young people.

The evaluation, undertaken by Dr Sara Scott (University of Bedford) has shown that SYEP has successfully demonstrated that some children and young people who are subject to, or victims of, CSE can be safely cared for in their own communities – if sufficient, appropriate support is provided for both them and their carers.

Young people engaged with the support provided and there is evidence that key risk factors – including missing episodes – have been reduced and that protective factors – including a positive relationship with at least one supportive adult and attending school/college – have increased.

A young person described their personal gain from the project:

‘You connect all the dots in my world…school, my social worker, my carers and my mum… you get us all together and we talk about things.’

Nerys Anthony, Director Young People Health & Wellbeing said:

‘At the end of a successful two year innovation, Catch22 is proud of the legacy left in South Yorkshire. Partners have worked to embed key learnings from the programme into mainstream delivery within children’s social care, drawing on health partners to support the approach, to ensure that the most vulnerable have their needs met and risk reduced. Catch22 and partners, Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, Sheffield City Council, Barnsley Council and Rotherham Council have learnt a great deal, and will implement this learning to inform future innovation and partnership delivery.

‘I will personally take from this work the need to enable foster carers, parents, as well as young people to have a voice, play a part in the solution and that carers and are treated as professionals. I also realise the significance of emotional health and wellbeing forming a core part of any solution for young people and their families and carers.’

Read the full evaluation here.