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Vulnerable children benefit from US anti-abuse method

Vulnerable children and young people in Glasgow are to benefit from the first UK trial of a radical US approach to cutting the harm caused by abuse.

The Big Lottery fund has awarded £1.07 million to the NSPCC's project to assess the impact of the New Orleans Intervention Model, designed at Tulane University, Louisiana.

The cash will allow a four-year clinical trial of the model, which sees public authorities working with families after children are taken into care for issues such as neglect and abuse.

The families are given every opportunity to prove they can care safely for their children, but in America a ticking clock is provided by the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act, which obliges a child to be placed for adoption after a set time has elapsed.

In Scotland, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Glasgow City Council, who are partners with the NSPCC trial, are keen to establish whether the system can prevent the delays commonly experienced by many children who are removed from families.

On average, a child removed and placed in foster care in Scotland spends around four years before a decision is taken about whether to remove them permanently from their parents' care.

In many cases this period includes frequent, damaging moves between foster families and back to and away from their biological family home, to attempt rehabilitation or work out the best way to help them.

The New Orleans System was already being tested in Glasgow, but the new funding will allow for a four-year gold standard clinical trial, working with Glasgow University, which will involve children aged between six months and five-years-old, the ages at which experts believe there is the best chance of avoiding long-term harm.

Matt Forde, head of service for the NSPCC, said the funding would allow a much more thorough assessment of how the New Orleans Approach might benefit children's services in Scotland.

"What we all want is to set children on the path to having a happy, healthy childhood," he said. "The evidence from New Orleans is that this comprehensive package leads to families being offered support and treatment, which improves relationships between the child and the parents and the parents capacity improves."

Contextual targeting label: 
Families

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