How can the Dorset Specialist Family Worker Team help me and my family?

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What you need to know

There are four Specialist Family Workers that cover Dorset. 

The Specialist Family Worker Team are highly qualified and experienced in working with children and families. They are dedicated and committed to improving the lives of the children and families they work with. The Specialist Family Workers have extensive knowledge and resources to enable them to support Recovery Navigators within Reach and to sign post families to different help and support and make referrals to on behalf of colleagues. 

They have links with various professionals in their areas and are able to source information quickly which may benefit children, families and colleagues. 

The Specialist Family Workers have a range of roles and responsibilities which include, actively and regularly promoting Reach services and that of the Specialist Family Workers to relevant partner agencies to maximise referrals. They assertively engage families with parental substance misuse who are new to substance misuse services or struggling to engage. This includes families attached to the Dorset Family Matters (DFM) programme who may benefit from Reach Specialist Family Workers help, support and guidance. 

The team offer a strength based tailored and integrated support package which focuses on strengths, needs and risks. This package also includes crisis intervention approaches. They work with parents to establish, encourage and maintain stability within the family, resilience and improved parenting capacity. 

Family Workers support families with connecting to external services and community support. A virtual parenting group is run fortnightly by the team which looks at all aspects of parenting and the impact of substance misuse on children.    

The team works in conjunction with other professionals to provide a multi-agency approach to family focus intervention, help, support and guidance. They offer a whole family approach to support parental substance misuse. This includes information regarding Reach Relatives Support group. 

The Specialist Family Workers use a variety of methods and approaches within their work to help and support the children and families they work with. These include: Face to face meetings: home visits, going into schools, community outreach (supporting the whole family); Telephone / video calls; Psychosocial interventions; Parent group (evening); Training to other professionals; Dorset Family Matters applications; Colleagues Support; Family Court, Child Protection and Child in Need documentation; Links with Probation; Lead or Supporting Professional; Referrals and liaison with external agencies; Support families to use self-help and digitally based, family focused interventions; Liaise with local business to obtain donations for Christmas and birthdays and for day to day living; Offer practical support in the form of vouchers for the food bank; Attend Child Protection Conferences, Child in Need Conferences, Child in Care Conferences and Team Around the Family meetings; Advocate for children and families at any meetings; Attend Best Start in Life meetings to support the youngest residents in the county; Work collaboratively with Recovery Navigators using a dual approach support and intervention package; Attend Locality and Local Alliance group meetings in order to develop a strong network helping children and families in the area to succeed and flourish and Form strong links with Early Help teams, Children’s Services, Adult Social Care and other relevant social care teams to ensure productive and meaningful multi-agency approaches to joint working, to de-escalate risk and reduce statutory interventions. 

There are many policies, procedures and documentation that underpin the work of the Specialist Family Worker Team, some of which include: The Children Act 1989/2004; Pan-Dorset Safeguarding Children Partnership; Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018; Children & Families Act 2014 and Every Child Matters 2020. 

There are many agencies that the Specialist Family Workers refer clients into which can provide a diverse range of help and support, some of whom are, The Horse Course, Public Health Dorset, Dorset Family Matters, Stars, Cruse bereavement Services and the Fresh Start programme, to name a few. 

The use of a multi-facetted approach using psychosocial. therapeutic and practical interventions combined has shown to be very beneficial to children and families. 

The Specialist Family Worker Team take in-house referrals for families who meet the criteria. 

If external agencies would like to refer families for help and support with the Specialist Family Worker Team, they can do so by calling Freephone number is 0800 0434656 or by using the referral link 

External Agencies are welcome to contact the Specialist Family Worker in their area to discuss a family referral. This will then be discussed with Colette Liddiard East Dorset Team Lead and Senior Specialist Family Worker to determine the best pathway forward for the family.