A consortium, led by Research in Practice, together with the University of Bedfordshire and The Children’s Society has been appointed to develop and deliver a new programme to tackle child exploitation.
The Tackling Child Exploitation (TCE) Support Programme is a significant investment by the Department for Education and aims to support local areas to develop an effective strategic response to child exploitation and threats from outside the family home, including child sexual exploitation and child criminal exploitation, including county lines drug trafficking.
The not-for-profit consortium will work with a number of skilled Delivery Partners, comprising local authorities, charities, academics and independent subject matter experts, to deliver support to local areas.
The TCE Support Programme will be evidence-informed, and developed with the sector, in order to reflect and build on the wealth of existing knowledge and activity in this field. The emphasis on harnessing and sharing sector expertise reflects the consortium’s commitment to building capacity and enabling sustainable change.
Over the next three years, every local authority area will be able to apply for ‘Bespoke Support’, and in addition a website will be developed providing open access learning materials. Bespoke Support projects will help local partners including social care, health, police and education, to understand the risks and harms facing children and young people outside the family home and develop a more effective response.
Key aims of the TCE support Programme include: enabling local areas to access credible, sector-acknowledged expertise on child exploitation and risk outside the family home; helping to improve their capacity and capability to respond effectively, and to support the development of skilled, knowledgeable and confident professionals.
Dr Helen Beckett, Director of The International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking and programme lead for the University of Bedfordshire, said: "As an applied research centre, dedicated to improving outcomes for children and young people, we are delighted to be partnering in this exciting new initiative.
“Our work, including our Contextual Safeguarding programme of work, spans many different areas of child exploitation and extra-familial harm, exploring these issues from the perspectives of both children and young people themselves and those seeking to protect them from such harms.
“As such, we are acutely aware of both the impact of these harms upon children and young people (and their families) and the challenges local areas face when trying to respond to these complex forms of harm. We look forward to the opportunities this initiative offers to progress learning and multi-perspective conversations about how we might better protect children and young people from such harm in the future.”
Dez Holmes, Director of Research in Practice, said: “Child exploitation, in its various forms, is a key challenge for local areas who are striving to effectively prevent and respond to the harms facing children, young people and their families.
“We recognise the significant existing expertise of local and national partners, and are committed to working collaboratively with others who are active in this field. We believe firmly that ‘doing with’ the sector is the most effective means of achieving sustainable change. Importantly, we will develop this programme in close consultation with the sector – ensuring that research knowledge, practice wisdom and the voice of children and families is at the heart of everything we do.”
Rachel Dickinson, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said: “Research in Practice has a long history of working closely with the sector on complex issues affecting children and young people’s lives in a bid to improve both practice and services on offer across the country via research and new tools. Their consortia partners also have a lot of experience in this area. This support is welcome in terms of building strategic responses to all forms of exploitation as is the proposed collaborative approach to be taken in working with local authorities across the country.”
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