It's a new service that aims to make a difference to the lives of the most vulnerable children and families living in Wrexham.
It will bring together professionals from various backgrounds to provide intensive support, particularly giving parental support for adults and families.
This type of service aims to bring about family lifestyle changes to enhance child welfare and keep families together.
Wrexham has received £1.8 million for the next three years to fund this new project. It is one of only three Authorities in Wales pioneering this multi-agency approach to "whole" families where alcohol and substance misuse is a key risk factor.
Over the next three years Wrexham's Integrated Family Support Team will work intensively with all members of the family, where there are parental substance misuse issues with either one or both parents.
A consultant social worker has been appointed to initiate new social work practices.
The provision is delivered intensively, up to 80 hours over 4 weeks, including evening and weekends to ensure family engagement.
The team is part of the Council's Children and Young People Service and sits within the Prevention and Inclusion Department.
By bringing together a range of skilled staff to help support families, a specialist team such as the one being introduced in Wrexham, can help overcome the difficulties families may be experiencing.
Many children who end up in care do so because of neglect or abuse, brought about by their parents' alcohol or drug dependency.
It is important that parents are given intense support to recover from their addiction to either drugs or alcohol and their children are protected.
The integrated family support team will aim to stabilise home life to ensure that children and parents can stay together, avoiding foster care or the alternative of placing a child into a care home.
If this has already happened the team can work with the family to bring the family back together by accessing both adult and children's social services provision. Alternatively, intervention means that suitable placements can be found at an earlier stage to give children the best opportunities possible.
It's different because the team is not responsible for individual family cases, but has the power to commission different services to make significant changes. As a result it is not burdened by statutory paperwork like ordinary social service teams. The focus is on the needs of the family over a short and intensive period of time. Hours are flexible to accommodate family members.
How will families who are looked after by the Integrated Family Support Team benefit?
The Integrated Family Support Service will impact on one of the three Corporate Priorities:
This is because many of the children who come under the IFSS may have their schooling jeopardised, due to family circumstances and become what is known as NEETs - Not in Education, Employment or Training.
It aims to strengthen the family unit and support the young person and tackle obstacles to social inclusion, including access to education and training.
It will also impact on the following Improvement areas:
For the first time there will be a whole family plan put in place to deal with nutrition and active lifestyle issues.
Anti-social behaviour and substance misuse often co-exists with high need families, both for these adults and their children.
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The IFSS model is a collaborative Assembly Government policy to respond to concerns that existing services are not sufficiently meeting the needs of some children and families with complex problems. Integrated Family Support Teams (IFST) will be operational from spring 2010.