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NATIONAL GUIDANCE & LOCAL IMPLEMENTATION August 2013 HOW I GROW AND DEVELOP WHAT I NEED FROM PEOPLE WHO LOOK AFTER ME MY WIDER WORLD AND COMMUNITY Meitheal Grúpa daoine ag obair le chéile A National Practice Model for all Agencies working with Children, Young People and their Families Acknowledgements The Meitheal Model and supporting documentation are primarily informed by the experiences of the Identification of Need (ION)Project in Sligo Leitrim and the Limerick Assessment of Needs (LANS) Project in Limerick City. These initiatives, and the Meitheal in turn, are informed by the Scottish Government's National Practice Model and the UK Common Assessment Framework. The overall Child and Family Agency Family Support Programme of work has been supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies. ISBN: Table of Contents 1.0 Introduction Main Forms Step by Step Guide Key Concepts Conclusion 19 Appendix 1 Appendix 2 A01 E01 1.0 Introduction The Working Together for Children Initiative (2011) led by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) provides the mandate and impetus for more integrated working between relevant agencies to improve developmental outcomes for all children. The Child and Family Agency Act 2013 provides for the bringing together of a range of existing services to children and families into one agency. The Agencies functions will include maintaining and developing support services, including support services in local communities in order to support and promote the development, welfare and protection of children and to support and encourage the effective functioning of families. In so doing the Agency will promote enhanced inter-agency cooperation to ensure that services for children are co-ordinated and provide an integrated response to the needs of children and their families. The Act also provides that the principles of the best interests of the child and of participation are applied to the Agency s work. In order to facilitate integrated working at the front line there is a need to develop a common approach to practice across all agencies that touch on the lives of children and families. A common approach to practice will help to ensure the participation of parents and children in all matters affecting them and promote inter-professional learning. Meitheal is an old Irish term that describes how neighbours would come together to assist in the saving of crops or other tasks. In this context Meitheal is a National Practice Model to ensure that the needs and strengths of children and their families are effectively identified and understood and responded to in a timely way so that children and families get the help and support needed to improve children s outcomes and realise their rights. The model is also intended to avoid duplication and particularly the need for families to repeatedly retell their story. This document envisages that in time, system-wide baseline and follow-up standardised measures will help demonstrate the effectiveness of multiagency working. The Meitheal Model is a key driver of the development of an area-based approach to prevention, partnership and family support through local area pathways as part of the National Service Delivery Framework of the Child and Family Agency. This document should be read in conjunction with the Guidance for the Implementation of an Area Based Approach to Prevention, Partnership and Family Support. As a standardised approach, Meitheal aims to ensure that children and families receive support and help in an integrated and coordinated way that is easily accessible to them. It is normally targeted at those children with unmet additional needs which, if left unmet, place children at risk of poor outcomes. Meitheal can be utilised by all practitioners in different agencies so that they can communicate and work together more effectively to bring together the requisite range of expertise, knowledge and skill to meet these needs at the earliest opportunity. 1 The Meitheal Model will be led and coordinated by the Child and Family Agency (The Agency) and will ensure families who do not require children and family social work intervention receive preventative support. Multi-agency models of assessment and intervention have been trialled in two sites in Ireland: the Identification of Need process in Sligo/Leitrim and Donegal (ION) and the Limerick Assessment of Need System (LANS). These initiatives were themselves heavily influenced by the UK Common Assessment Framework (CAF), initially developed in North Lincolnshire and the My World Triangle developed by the Scottish Government. The Meitheal National Practice Model has been informed primarily by the ION and LANS projects, but also the work undertaken by the National Educational Welfare Board, One Child, One Plan, the Child Health Needs Assessment Framework process (Midlands); Women s Aid Early Identification of Domestic Violence Work with the Family Support Agency; the Mol on Óige initiative in Mayo and Roscommon and the Young People at Risk (YPAR) model and Inter Agency Working Agreement in Dublin City North. Meitheal is quite simply a model of practice through which agencies change the nature of their existing work; In this model, a Lead Practitioner identifies a child's and their families needs and stengths and then, if the identified needs require it, brings together a team around the child to deliver preventative support that is outcomes-focused, planned, documented and reviewed over time. The support offered should be planned in a highly participatory manner and directed by the child or young person and their family. Meitheal is both the overall name for the practice model and, specifically the Irish name that equates to the team-around-the-child concept. The principles underpinning the Meitheal Model are: Parents are made aware at the outset that child protection concerns in relation to their child or children will be referred to the Children and Families Social Work service in line with Children First Guidance, It is a voluntary process all aspects - from the decision to enter this process, to the nature of information to be shared, outcomes desired, support delivered, agencies to be involved to the end point of the process - are led by the parents/ caregivers and child. A Meitheal meeting cannot take place without the involvement of at least one parent. The Meitheal Model looks at the whole child in an holistic manner, in the context of his or her family and environment. It takes into account strengths and resilience as well as difficulties and needs. It privileges the voices of the parent/ carer and child, recognising them as experts in their own situations and assisting them to identify their needs and ways of meeting them. The Meitheal model is aligned with the wider Child and Family Support Agency Service Delivery Framework. The Meitheal Model should be outcomesfocussed and should be implemented through a Lead Practitioner. 2 2.0 Main Forms Appendix 1 provides sample versions of the forms required to operate the Meitheal Model. The forms are designed to assist practitioners to identify and meet the needs and strengths of children and families. The forms included are: A Preventative Support Request Form A Strengths and Needs Record Form A Planning and Review Form A Closure and Feedback form These forms are intended to help local areas set up the Meitheal Model and to ensure a degree of standardisation so that children and their families receive coherent and integrated support no matter where they live. The forms are also designed to encourage the participation of children and parents in the Meitheal Model. The forms are not designed to be overly prescriptive or to create a bureaucratic process, and should never become an obstacle to families receiving the support they need. Appendix 2 provides optional additional forms that are not essential but have been identified as beneficial. These are: An Outcomes Checklist 1 A Translator Confidentiality Form More supports to implementation will follow, including a Toolkit for Practitioners, guides for parents, children and young people and practitioners, as well as a national standardised training and development programme. 1 The outcomes checklist also serves as a baseline and follow up measure of the child's situation relative to the 5 national outcomes. It has been adapted from the Outcomes Framework, Westmidlands Children's Commissioning Partnership, 2008, avaiable at (April_2008)%5B1%5D.pdf 3 3.0 Step-by-Step Guide This section provides details of the Meitheal Model to be operated under the leadership of the Agency. It provides local areas with a three-stage approach, with the overall process broken down into a series of steps (see process diagram below). The guide is intended to inform all practitioners working with children and families about the model, and to guide a Lead Practitioner in carrying out their role. The stages and steps below begin when it is clear that a family does not reach the threshold necessary for social work intervention. However, if a child protection concern arises Children First Guidance and legislation must be followed. The step- by-step guide specifically focuses on the following areas: Stage 1: Preparation Step 1: Consider whether a Meitheal is necessary? Step 2: If at any stage you have child protection concerns follow Children First Guidance Step 3: Introduce the Meitheal Model to the family Step 4: Pre-Meitheal checks with CFSN Coordinator Stage 2: Discussion Step 5: Identification of needs and strengths Step 6: Consider appropriate response Stage 3: Delivery Step 7: Plan and deliver support Step 8: Monitor and review progress Step 9: Ending and closing 4 Stage 1: Preparation Step 1: Consider whether a Meitheal is necessary? Practioner identifies a child/young person as having unmet additional needs. Completing the outcomes checklist can support this Step 2: If at any stage you have child protection concerns follow Children First Guidance Yes Follow Children First Guidance - Refer to Child Protection SW If threshold met, case responsibility with Social Work Department If at any stage you have child protection concerns follow Children First Guidance Step 3: Introduce Meitheal to the family Use the parents guide to explain the process to them. Secure explicit written parental consent Yes Step 4: Has a Meitheal been done with this family or is the case open to the Social Work Department No No Yes Discuss with Line Manager If there is an existing Meitheal you will be advised how to link in. If the case is open to SW you will be advised that SW is taking the lead and advised to share your concerns with them 5 Stage 2: Discussion If at any stage you have child protection concerns follow Children First Guidance Step 5: Document Needs, Strengths and Desired Outcomes Complete record form with family and gather information from other agencies/services working with the family, where appropriate Step 6: Consider Appropriate Response Is a Meitheal Support Meeting required? Yes Stage 3: Delivery Step 7: Plan and Deliver Support 3 Secure consent of family for a Meitheal meeting and agree agencies to invite with them. 3 Contact Child and Family Network Coordinator and agree meeting details (Chair, date for meeting, appropriate agencies to be invited) 3 At the Meitheal meeting agree Action Plan, Lead Practitioner and Date for Review Meeting No Decide Appropriate response No further action required Referral to Children and Family Social Work Service Referral to Specialist Service Single agency response Step 8: Monitor and Review Progress Towards Outcomes 3 Monitor and review the multiagency plan/single agency plan in an outcomes focused manner until the needs are met or the process has to end for another reason (e.g. child protection concerns) 3 The plan should be reviewed at an appropriate frequency depending on the child's/young person s circumstances Step 9: Ending and Closing Complete the closure and feedback form and document the process that has taken place for the child and whether the child's needs are met and initial desired outcomes have been achieved. 6 1Stage 1 Preparation If at any stage during the operation of the Meitheal Model a practitioner has child protection concerns then the Children First Guidance, 2011 must be followed. Step 1: Consider whether a Meitheal is necessary? Meitheal is about preventative support where children have unmet additional and/or complex needs that need to be responded to, but who do not require children and family social work intervention is not required. You do not need to undertake a Meitheal with every child you are working with children who are progressing well or have needs that are already being responded to do not require a Meitheal. Similarly, you don t need to do a Meitheal where you have identified the child s needs and your service can meet them, or you know how to get the required help from another service, using established procedures. You might decide to undertake a Meitheal when you have concerns about how well the child is progressing; when their needs are unclear and/or broader than the remit of a single agency provider; where a range of services are involved but there is no clear overall plan for the child, or when the child/ family raises concerns with you in relation to the child s progress. When you are unsure whether a Meitheal is needed or not, the Outcomes Checklist can be used to help you make the decision. It also guides your conversation with parent(s) in explaining the reasons why you think a Meitheal would be of benefit to their child. It will also allow you to establish a baseline measure of where the child or young person is, relative to the 5 National Outcomes set out by the DCYA. This exercise can then be repeated when the Meitheal is being closed in order to assist with the measurement of progress towards outcomes. Additional guidance on how to complete the Outcomes checklist will be provided in the Meitheal toolkit and will be covered in Meitheal training. Step 2: If at any stage you have child protection concerns follow Children First Guidance Keeping children safe is everyone's business. Children First, 2011 stipulates that society has a duty to care towards children and requires everyone working to be alert to the possibility of abuse. If at any stage you have child protection concerns follow Children First Guidance. Whether or not a referral under Children First is required is not always clear, and referrers are encouraged under Section of Children First to consult Children and Family Services in relation to their concerns. 7 Step 3: Introduce Meitheal to the Family Use the Parent s Guide to introduce Meitheal to the parent(s). Explain that Meitheal is a Practice Model that it is used to identify their child s strengths and needs and recognises that parents want what is best for their child to grow, develop and be happy. If they are interested in Meitheal, you should explain about the checks that need to be undertaken and secure their consent for the checks to take place. It is essential to secure written parental consent for the checks and their engagement in the overall Meitheal Model before the Meitheal can proceed any further. Parental consent is secured in writing using the Meitheal Preventative Support Request Form. If the parent(s) do not consent to the Meitheal, you should have a discussion with your Line Manager to decide on the appropriate course of action to take there may be scope to discuss the parents fears/ concerns about Meitheal further with them and to overcome the barriers to their engagement. Step 4: Pre- Meitheal checks with the CFSN Coordinator Once parental consent has been secured, the next step is to check with the Child and Family Network Coordinator to determine whether the Meitheal can proceed. You will need to provide the following details for the check to be undertaken: Child s name; address; gender; date of birth; parent s name. If an existing Meitheal is in place or has recently been in place for the child, the CFSN Coordinator will link you to the Lead Practitioner so that you can discuss how best to link with the Meitheal. The CFSN Coordinator will also check with the Child and Family Social Work Service to see if the case is open to that system. If the case is open to Social Work, you will be informed of this and advised not to proceed with the Meitheal, as it is important that families not be involved in parallel processes. The CFSN Coordinator will inform you of the Social Worker assigned to the case, so that you can make contact with them to discuss your concerns and/or input into the child s plan. It is likely there will still be a need for supportive interventions from community based services. 8 2Stage 2 Discussion Step 5: Meitheal Strengths and Needs Record Form The Meitheal Strengths and Needs Record Form enables you to develop a snapshot picture of the child s life at a particular moment in time. It is a holistic framework and it collects information on the three domains of the My World Triangle (see diagram below). This information is collected through structured conversations/ discussions with the parent(s) that support them to tell their story and to identify any concerns they have in relation to their child. Information can also be collected, with parental consent, from key services supporting the child/ family, as agreed in the Preventative Support Request Form. It is also important to collect the views of the child/young person, where possible. Once you have collected the information, you should then organise it and record it within the headings contained in the Meitheal Strengths and Needs Record Form. You should then provide a copy of the Draft Meitheal Strengths and Needs Record Form to the parent(s) and have a discussion with them to complete/ finalise it. Send a copy of the completed Meitheal Strengths and Needs Record Form to the Child and Family Network Coordinator. MY WORLD TRIANGLE The whole health and development of the child or your person Being able to communicate Being independant looking after myself Being healthy Learning to be responsible Enjoying friends and family Learning & achieving Confidence in who I am HOW I GROW AND DEVELOP WHAT I NEED FROM PEOPLE WHO LOOK AFTER ME Understanding my family s history, background & belief MY WIDER WORLD AND COMMUNITY Guidance, supporting me to make the right choices Play, encouragement and fun Knowing what is going to happen and when Everyday care and help Being there for me Keeping me safe School Enough money Local resources Work opportunities for my family Support from family, friends and other people Comfortable and safe housing Belonging Acknowledgment to the Scottish Government 9 Step 6: Consider Appropriate Response Once the Meitheal Strengths and Needs Record Form is finalised, you should then, in consultation with the parent(s), consider the appropriate response you need to take next. There are five possible responses, as follows: 1 2 Identified needs to be met by Lead Practitioner, working with other agencies as appropriate Referral to Children & Family Social Work Service In some instances, more than one of the above responses may be required- for example, a multi-agency response and a referral to specialist service may be needed. In such an instance the specialist service can join the Meitheal for the period of time required to meet the child's needs. If a multi-agency response is required, discuss and agree with the parent(s) the appropriate services that should be included in the process. Record parental consent to include additional services and to share information with them on the Meitheal Strengths and Needs Record form. This can be done by naming the agency and having the parent initial and date their inclusion Referral to single agency or specialist service No further action required Multi-agency response - call a Meitheal Support
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