Outstanding rating for Barnsley family centre

21 August 2012

A residential family centre in Barnsley which helps keep vulnerable children safe has been rated outstanding by the children’s services watchdog.

The Gawber Road centre, run by local company Twenty Four-Seven, assesses and supports up to six sets of parents whose care of their children is being evaluated for family courts. 

Inspectors from Ofsted rated services as outstanding across the board, from the competency of its social workers and thorough monitoring standards to the high quality of facilities and equipment. They also praised the way the centre meets the health and education needs of families.    

Caroline Huxford, who co-owns and manages the company with Jane Williams, said:  “This is a fantastic achievement. We are one of very few residential family centres nationally that have such a rating, and the only one located north of Birmingham.  It is reward for all the hard work and dedication that our team have put in to ensure that we provide a quality, outstanding service.

“Our main role is assessing families’ ability to parent children so decisions can be made about whether children should continue to be cared for by their parents.  However, we also provide a lot of support, guidance and learning and pride ourselves on creating a nurturing environment.  We also support parents as they move on from here.” 

The Gawber Road centre opened in a house in 2004. In 2010 it doubled the number of families it could accommodate from three to six by expanding into a neighbouring property.

Families are typically placed in the centre for a 12-week assessment following court orders prompted by local authority concerns about parents’ ability to care for their children.

Caroline continued:  “Many parents have vulnerabilities, such as their young age, learning disabilities or mental health problems, or they may be leaving care, and many have never experienced positive parenting themselves.”

A number of research documents have highlighted the importance of early interventions in vulnerable families. The Recognition of Adolescent Neglect Review in 2011 found that neglect is most damaging in the early stages of life.

The centre has worked with over 100 families so far.  Most come from the Yorkshire and Humber region and placements are funded by their local authority.

Over the last two years, assessments recommended that 65 per cent of the children remain with their parents after the placement. Of these children, 82 per cent are known to still be at home with their parents. Only one child is known to have been removed from its parents beyond three months after the placement.

In cases of children removed from their parents, Twenty Four-Seven believes it has been able to speed up the process of determining future care for youngsters by producing assessment reports to a high standard.

Jane said:  “Although placements have typically been for 12 weeks, we are undertaking assessments for shorter periods. We have at least monthly review meetings but we also provide weekly summaries which allow professionals involved to promptly identify any issues of concern and enable consideration of all involved as to whether assessments should continue.

“This is particularly important given the recommendation of Mr Justice Ryder in his recent final report on the modernisation of family justice to reduce delays and 'fast-track' child care cases

“While we recognise that a residential assessment at Gawber Road is still a significant financial commitment for local authorities, we believe that they often provide longer- term savings in enabling appropriate decisions to be made about a child’s future quicker.”

Staff at Gawber Road now also provide short, intensive ‘Parenting Essentials Assessments’. These usually take place at the centre or in the community for 12 sessions over two to three weeks.

Twenty Four-Seven was set up in 2001. Caroline and Jane are both

qualified social workers who worked for local authorities for 11 years prior to launching their business. The company runs two other facilities providing support for families in Penistone and Worsbrough Common. 

For further information about Twenty Four-Seven visit www.24sevensupport.co.uk or call 01226 766123.



The report has been published on Ofsted’s website www.bit.ly/NKW3uh

Caroline and Jane are currently are in Italy for several weeks but are contactable via email on chuxfordat24-7@btconnect.com or phone on 0039 098 282067.

Additional media contacts: Deborah Wain on 07903 466228 or deborah@capitalbmedia.co.uk or Kate Betts on 01226 766900 or 07792 764891 or at kate@capitalbmedia.co.uk

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