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Parenting and family support

Intensive Family Intervention Service (IFIS)

Wiltshire’s Intensive Family Intervention Service (IFIS) is a team of 30 specialist intervention workers, with a variety of expertise and backgrounds. They are supported and managed by two intervention team leaders, assistant team manager and team manager. IFIS sits within Wilthsire Council's  Early Help service, as part of Occupational Children's Services.

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IFIS supports children, young people and families by offering an intensive visiting package with the goal of improving outcomes and opportunities for children and young people in Wiltshire.

They do this by working with the whole family to improve parenting, as well as support with managing challenging behaviours, routines, boundaries and home conditions, plus other areas that the family may require support with.

They work intensively with families where neglect is a presenting issue, with the overriding goal of keeping families together and preventing children from entering the care system. They also work closely with schools, social workers, health workers and other professionals to ensure families are getting the right level of support at the right time.

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IFIS works with children, young people and their families who have been identified as needing additional support, other than that which universal services (the services everyone can access, such as GPs, children's centres and schools) can offer.

The children and young people either need to have a Common Assessment Framework (CAF), My Support Plan (MSP), ASSETT Plus (Youth Offending Assessment) or be open to children’s social care under child in need or child protection. The IFIS forms part of the existing team of professionals identified to support the family and do not replace lead professionals or social workers. 

The team works with all family members, including any important people in the children's lives.

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When the work first begins, IFIS will have been given a request of what the referring agent feels needs to change. This will be explored with the family at the initial visit and they will use the Graded Care Profile (Bruce Thornton) to assess what the family’s needs are.

This is a user-friendly assessment and includes the family so that they can feel supported and not judged. Working in a solution focused method, the allocated specialist intervention worker will work alongside the family to encourage and empower change.

The needs of the children and young people are always in the forefront of the intervention and at times they may have to raise safeguarding concerns; however, this is always shared with the family in order for them to continue to provide support throughout any periods of escalation. Similarly, IFIS support with 'step down', for families who have been open to social care and are returning to CAF/universal services or from child protection to child in need.

IFIS uses a range of tools throughout intervention and it will always been individual to the needs of the family. Your specialist intervention worker will review their work every 6-8 weeks and will always complete a staged closure when work comes to an end.

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Children and young people and their families will have been assessed have complex need which means they require additional support with areas such as:

  • ASD/autism
  • ADHD/ODD
  • Parental or young person mental/emotional health
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Offending behaviour (child or parent)
  • Domestic abuse, both carer to child and child to parent
  • Child sexual exploitation (CSE)
  • Neglect
  • At risk of family breakdown
  • Employment/financial difficulties
  • School attendance
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You can only access IFIS if you have been referred by a professional - either the lead professional (at CAF, MSP, ASSETT+) or by the allocated social worker.

The referral form is completed and sent to the multi-agency Gateway Panel at County Hall, with a copy of the assessment (either CAF, MSP, ASSETT+ or Single Assessment). All referrals are discussed at the Gateway Panel. The referring agent will be informed of the outcome.

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Crisis intervention by IFIS

IFIS also works on a rota to provide support to children, young people and their families, who are in crisis and at risk of immediate breakdown. This service is available 365 days a year, from 9am-10pm.

It is also available to reduce any immediate risks to children and young people, especially newborns and vulnerable children, by visiting daily if required.

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Children, young people and families can access this support by contacting their allocated social worker if you have one. If you don't have an allocated social worker, contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). If it is an evening or weekend, contact Emergency Duty Service (EDS) on 0845 60 70 888.

Professionals can access the support by contacting either the IFIS assistant team manager or team manager and discussing the nature of the issue. 

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Crisis intervention is designed to address an immediate, presenting issue. If a family is unable to continue to care for a child, or a child has extremely challenging behaviour, IFIS crisis intervention can support either by visiting or offering telephone support. The kind of support that will be offered will include:

  • De-escalation skills and techniques - this can help you calm a situation down
  • Mediation
  • Negotiation
  • Supporting with boundaries and consequences
  • Re-opening communication lines that may have broken down between family members
  • Offer a hour or so of respite, to alleviate the issue
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Crisis intervention has its limitations and can only be used for a limited amount of time before a more structured plan is required. The team is unable to:

  • Stay overnight
  • Babysit
  • Accommodate a child
  • Offer a taxi service
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What is the Safer Parenting Handbook?

The Safer Parenting Handbook offers some ideas and information to help you find your way through what can be a maze of issues and advice. It gives contacts and further information you can follow up when you are deciding how to deal with your worries and difficulties. The handbook also lists some of the warning signs of particular difficulties and offers helpful tips.

Every family experiences difficulty from time to time and this can test the best of parents. At these times it may be hard to think about what help or information you might need.

When things go wrong it does not mean that someone has failed in parenting - things go wrong for everyone. It is often the way difficulties are handled that can make a difference to our children, both now and in the future.

There is no such thing as the perfect parent. However, there are some ways we can make it a less stressful and more rewarding experience.

Who has produced this guide?

The handbook has been produced by Wiltshire Safeguarding Children Board (WSCB). The WSCB is made up of senior representatives from health, education, social work, police, probation and the voluntary sector (including NSPCC), among others.

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Last updated: 24 November 2016 | Last reviewed: 24 November 2016