Children playing together

Warrington Borough Council is one of seven new areas to be chosen to deliver the Families First for Children Pathfinder programme – improving services to help more children stay with their families in safe and loving homes, and protecting vulnerable children from harm where needed.


The programme will make sure targeted early help is available for families suffering domestic abuse, addiction, or poor mental health, to help them overcome adversity before issues escalate and children are put at risk of harm.

Where child protection is necessary, it will be carried out by social workers with greater expertise and experience, and the wider family will stay involved in decision-making.

The “pathfinder”, backed by up to £19.5 million, sits at the core of the national children's social care reform strategy, Stable Homes, Built on Love, which aims to revamp the current system to focus more on early intervention and best practice child protection where that is required.

Other reforms being tested include strengthened support for wider family members like grandparents, aunts or uncles to help them step in and provide support to children to help them continue living with their parents – for example help with additional weekly costs, buying a new bed, or topping up lost wages.

The Families First programme will transform how Warrington Borough Council supports families and children by:

  • Creating multi-disciplinary family help teams, to make sure families with multiple needs can access all the support they need earlier and in one place
  • Making greater use of extended family members, with them being the first port of call if extra support is required, and practical and financial support provided to them if needed
  • Establishing dedicated multi-agency child protection teams
  • Creating stronger and clearer multi-agency safeguarding processes, including an increased role for education and improved information sharing

Warrington Borough Council’s Director of Children’s Services, Amanda Perraton, said: “This is really good news for us locally. Being one of only seven areas selected across the country shows that people trust Warrington to be a leader in improving child protection, keeping more children safe and in loving homes.

“Ultimately, this is all about supporting every child to thrive in a supportive environment. We will now work hard to embed this new practice into the work we do, so that other councils can follow our progress, learn from us and make their own improvements.”

The children’s social care reform strategy published last year, Stable Homes, Built on Love responded to recommendations made in the Independent Review of Children's Social Care, led by Josh MacAlister and the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel’s review into the tragic deaths of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson. The findings showed the care system was often fragmented and struggling to meet the needs of children and families across England.