Dorset Council is to launch a new project to improve the health and education outcomes for children in the area.

Families in the Weymouth and Portland area will benefit from the ‘Safeguarding Families Together’ scheme with the aim of “making Dorset the best place to be a child”.

The project aims to embed specialist adult service workers alongside social workers for children with an approach to keeping children safe in the family home.

The scheme forms part of Dorset Council’s “Delivering Locally” plan in which the local authority has pledged to blend whole family approaches with a particular focus on addressing the needs of children living with parental substance use, mental ill-health or domestic abuse.

Read more: Park Yoga returns for new season in Weymouth

Councillor Andrew Parry, Portfolio Holder for Children, Education, Skills and Early Help, explained: “Multi-disciplinary teams made up of children’s social workers and adult specialists in mental health, substance misuse and domestic abuse will work alongside families.

“Adults within the household are assessed and provided with specialist help without the need for wait times and appointments. Through individual and group work programmes, perpetrators of domestic abuse will be supported and educated. Victims of domestic abuse will be offered help and support.”

Similar approaches to whole family safeguarding have been implemented in other local authority areas and Dorset Council say there is ‘compelling evidence’ that suggests it supports better outcomes for families, improves recruitment and retention of social workers as well as delivering cost reductions.

Read more: Cornish Bakery staff cycling 163 miles to raise money for RNLI

Cllr. Parry added that the project would enable holistic interventions in order to provide the right support when required. He said:

“Everyone working with families will be trained in motivational interviewing, a counselling approach which provides empathy and promotes self-belief to facilitate positive change with an emphasis on helping the family to use their own strengths.”

The pilot project aims to keep families together where the risk might otherwise have been too high: aiming to reduce the number of children coming into care and increase capacity for social workers meaning they can spend ‘more time working directly with families’.

If the pilot is successful the Council hopes to expand the approach across the whole of Dorset.