Therapy plan to keep Gloucestershire children out of care

A project which aims to reduce the number of children going into care is to start soon in Gloucestershire.

Functional Family Therapy works by providing intensive support to vulnerable families so youngsters can stay with their parents and siblings.

The Conservative-led county council said helping families before they reach crisis point was more cost-effective than picking up the pieces afterwards.

It plans to spend nearly £1m over the next three years on the scheme.

Director of Children's Services, Linda Uren, said the council had noted a lot of children did not come into care until their teenage years.

'Challenging times'

"Those can be the most challenging times for families and the outcome for those children if they come into care are pretty poor," she said.

"It can cause all sorts of issues with school attendance and they may get into youth offending and they tend to go back to their families afterwards.

"We are looking to fund and invest in an alternative solution."

The idea has been developed in the United States over the past 30 years.

Thomas Sexton, from Indiana-based Functional Family Therapy Associates, said the concept developed to find a way of engaging the children in treatment which would stay and get better.

"If you can keep them out of care when they first start to get into trouble not only can you save a lot of money but you can also save families a huge amount of hardship," he said.

"You really help kids change the trajectory of their future.

"FFT is a short-term intensive treatment and you can reduce their involvement in the justice system between 30 and 60%."

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