This report presents the interventions undertaken by Medway Council and its partners that contribute to reducing Domestic Abuse (DA) harms faced by children. The Domestic Abuse Act 2020 places additional requirements on Local Authorities (LAs) regarding the support of children. DA has an impact on people of all genders, ages and ethnicities; while acknowledging this, the scope of this report is limited to children under the age of 18 as survivors or children of survivors. Due to the limited scope this report does not represent the totality of services and interventions to address DA.
The Head of Public Health Programmes and the Head of First Response and Targeted Servicesntroduced the report which provided Members with information on the interventions undertaken by the Council and its partners to reduce domestic abuse (DA) harms faced by children and young people.
Members then raised a number of
questions and comments, which included:
· Early intervention – In response to a question about what was being done to provide early intervention support, officers explained that work was being done to address the gap that had existed previously in regard to this type of support. This included a community based service for perpetrators. In addition, from Key Stage 1 to 3, PSHE programmes in schools included teaching about healthy relationships, with a more targeted programme provided to children who were identified as at risk of exposure to domestic abuse of poor relationships.
· DART programme – in response to a concern about the future of this programme, Domestic Abuse, Recovering Together (DART), which had been delivered by the NSPCC previously, officers confirmed that the Council had bought the licence to continue to deliver the programme to eligible families in Medway.
· Work with governors – in response to a suggestion that governors should be engaged with in relation to this issue, officers welcomed the suggestion and confirmed that when the new DA Co-ordinator took up post in November, this would be put to them as something to pick up.
· Role of the community and voluntary sector (CVS) – officers confirmed that there was a great deal of engagement with CVS organisations and confirmed that the main provider of DA services in Medway was a CVS organisation. It was also confirmed that the CVS were represented on the partnership board.
· Referrals – in a response to a question about why referral rates were lower in Medway than in Kent, officers confirmed that Medway’s threshold for accessing services used to be only for victims at high risk of DA. The service had been recommissioned to meet the needs of medium risk victims, as well as high risk and last year the service saw a 92% increase in referrals and the service was now supporting a much wider cohort.
· Strategic analysis – in response to a question about whether this would be published, officers undertook to check and respond to Members.
· Accommodation – officers confirmed they worked closely with the housing service in providing suitable accommodation for victims. Where possible and safe to do so, families were supported to stay at home. Sometimes it was safer for victims t leave the home and refuges were commissioned for this purpose. The housing service were commissioning dispersed accommodation which would see accommodation, with visiting support, available across Medway to house victims and these properties were not obvious refuges.
· Support for CYP – it was asked how children that are subjected to or witnesses of DA were supported to not fall behind with their education and also how they were supported with their own emotional wellbeing. Officers confirmed that schools were notified of any pupil who has experienced or witnessed DA so the school and partner agencies could provide wrap around support for the child.
The Committee noted the report and proposed action by Council and partners and requested responses to questions not answered be provided via a briefing note.