Children's Services hold the lead responsibility for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children. Our key aim is to provide early help for children and families whilst protecting those that need it.
We take the lead role in working with partners to implement safeguarding and child protection procedures as agreed by the Durham Safeguarding Children Partnership, which can offer advice on what to do if you are concerned about a child being abused.
Only a very small percentage of children nationally, in County Durham (around 1%), require the support or intervention from Children's Services. Most people access any support required through mainstream services that are available to all children.
The majority of children and families who become involved with this service have more complex needs and may need support services, which are delivered by a range of agencies. Such services are focused on promoting the welfare of children and young people, safeguarding from harm, and protecting children who, without such intervention, would be at significant risk of harm or neglect. We invite families who have been in contact with our children's services team to give us their Children's services user feedback.
Services we provide
- Family Hubs provide early help through offering direct support, advice and a range of activities for children and young people from 0-19 years and their families.
- Our Families First service provide support to children, young people and families with complex needs and where there are concerns for the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, or where families need intensive support.
- A range of services to support children in need and their families including a disabled children's team.
- Child protection in schools, including the management of allegations against professionals.
- Children and young people who are looked after, which includes residential services for children and young people, fostering and adoption services.
- Young People's Service and a service for young people leaving care.
- A wide range of specialist services that support children who live with their families, helping prevent the need for children to become looked after. This includes the Emergency Duty Team who provide an emergency out of hours services, therapeutic services, community-based support to families in crisis, substance misuse services for young people, family pathfinder and activity-based support services.
- Aycliffe Secure Centre which operates within the context of a contract with the Youth Justice Board to care for young people whose liberty has been restricted or removed.
- County Durham Youth Justice Service (CDYJS) works with young people and partner agencies to prevent re-offending. We all identify risk factors in young people's lives which make it more likely they will re-offend and we put in place interventions to reduce the risks and prevent re-offending. We do this with young people who appear before the courts and also with young people 'pre-court'.
Legislative frameworks and guidance
Services are delivered under legislative frameworks and associated guidance, including the Children Act 1989, Adoption and Children Act 2002, Children Act 2004, Care Leavers Act 2002 and Care Standards Act 2000.
All practitioners working with children and families are required to work within our Single Assessment Procedure when identifying need and to ensure needs are addressed and appropriate interventions put in place at the earliest possible opportunity.