Council wins national award for innovative Baby in Mind programme

Bridgend County Borough Council has won a national award in recognition of its pioneering Baby in Mind programme.

The local authority received the Social Care Wales accolade during a ceremony yesterday (Tuesday, November 10) in a category celebrating projects which involve innovative and inspiring ways of working.

The Baby in Mind programme started in Bridgend county borough in April 2018. It sees a specialist team work with the parents of children who are at risk of coming into the care system, providing pre-birth and post-birth support to families with the aim of reducing the number of children taken into care.

This year’s awards ceremony took place in a live virtual ceremony, and included a message from comedian Rhod Gilbert who shone a spotlight on care work earlier this year after spending a week caring in a residential care home as part of a television series.

The council was one of three finalists alongside Carmarthenshire County Council -selected for a project focused on improving the health and wellbeing of people using mental health services – and Newport City Council, which was selected for a project involving plans for three new children’s homes in the area.

In a separate category, domiciliary care worker Jayne Jenkins who works for Bridgend County Borough Council’s Bridgestart Team was highly commended.

Jayne was among five frontline care workers to have been chosen by a panel of judges to reach the final, out of more than 70 nominees. She was nominated for the WeCare Wales award by Paul Jones whose father received palliative care following his release from hospital.

The Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help, Cllr Nicole Burnett said: “The work of Baby in Mind is truly inspirational and it’s fantastic to see the work of all those in the team recognised by Social Care Wales.

“Many congratulations also to Jayne who has done exceptionally well in the new WeCare Wales award which recognises and celebrates the positive difference to people’s lives that carers make.”

The Baby in Mind programme was devised by the council’s family support services manager David Wright and the group manager for case management and transition Iain McMillan after seeing more than a third of the children coming into care were under the age of one.

In its first year, the team worked alongside 38 families with 87% of babies supported by the team being able to remain safely within the family home.

As a result, the local authority reduced its use of parent and baby placements by 50% compared to the previous year.

Mr McMillan said: “We were acutely aware that Bridgend had very high numbers of babies who were subject to care orders at birth and we felt there could be an alternative.

“The programme is focused on early intervention and prevention, working with parents at that earlier stage to try and prevent the baby coming into the care system.

“The project is designed to work intensively with the family and with social services with the aim of keeping the family together.

It involves a package of support which is tailor made for families.”

Mr Wright added: “This accolade is a credit to all the staff in the team for the work they have done in making a difference by providing support in challenging circumstances with vulnerable families, and a credit to the families themselves who we have supported because it has involved us coming in and asking them to make some big changes which they have done.

“This accolade is all about the team and the families we support.”

You can watch the full Social Care Awards ceremony on Youtube.