£1m aid for pilot helping kids affected by abuse

A PROJECT which aims to improve the life chances of children affected by abuse has been given a £1million funding boost.

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Matt Forde at the NSPCC centre in Glasgow
Matt Forde at the NSPCC centre in Glasgow

Glasgow is the first UK city to pilot a US-devised scheme which aims to speed up decisions about the long-term care of vulnerable children.

Charity leaders say it can take up to four years for a decision to be made: Either adoption or a return to their birth parents.

Meanwhile, children can be 'yo-yoing' between a neglectful or abusive home and temporary foster placements.

Research shows children develop better in a secure and stable setting than with a succession of foster carers.

The initiative, called The New Orleans Intervention, has had dramatic success in the US, where it led to vulnerable children being adopted quicker, often by their foster carers, or returned to their birth families.

All children in the study showed compared mental health to children who hadn't been abused, in a follow-up study after seven years.

When under-fives are taken into care their relationships with their blood and foster parents are assessed. Based on their findings, activities are put in place for the birth parents and children, such as counselling and group therapy.

After six to nine months of these "interventions" experts, including mental health specialists and social workers, will make a decision on the long-term future of the child.

Around 20 families have been helped since the four-year pilot was launched in January 2012.

The NSPCC charity says the funding, from the Big Lottery Fund Scotland, will allow another 130 families to take part.

Matt Forde, head of NSPCC Scotland Services said: "It can take a very long time before a final decision is arrived at.

"Children's Hearings often struggle to balance what they see as giving the parents a chance to prove they can be good parents with the needs of the child. During that time we know that often children may have quite a bit of movement.

"The aim is to keep them in the one place -when you are young you are most vulnerable to the effects of abuse but there is that ability to recover.

"If it is tackled you can turn things around for that child."

The trial is led by the NSPCC with Glasgow City Council, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Glasgow University.

Experts say the short-term benefits of the scheme are a cut in the cost of looking after children in care Over the longer term if once-troubled children grow into more rounded individuals there is less chance of them ending up in jail.

caroline.wilson@eveningtimes.co.uk

Families

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