Families First for Children Pathfinder

In April 2024 the Department for Education announced that Wirral has been selected as one of only seven local authorities in the country to be a Families First for Children Pathfinder. Being selected means the government have placed a lot of faith in our ability to transform children’s services, and is an endorsement of some of the excellent and innovative work which is already taking place across the borough.

The Pathfinder is part of the government’s programme of reform for children’s services as part of the Stable Homes, Built on Love strategy, which seeks to help families to overcome challenges so they can stay together and thrive. The strategy responds to recommendations from the Independent review of children’s social care, the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel report on child protection in England and the Competitions and Market Authority’s market study of children’s social care provision.

Pathfinder areas will be able to test out new ways of working to see what works well, which will then help the government decide how best to implement the strategy across the country.

The Pathfinder programme falls into four broad areas, and we will be working closely with families and partner organisations to ‘test and learn’ ways of working within each of them. They are:

Multi-agency Safeguarding Arrangements

We want to create greater consistency and accountability across all multi-agency safeguarding arrangements, so that leaders at the right level are making the right decisions for local children and families.

This means….we will develop stronger and clearer multi-agency safeguarding arrangements, in line with working together 2023 and including an increased role for education, improved information sharing and engagement with children and families in designing and delivering reforms.

Family Help

Families should be able to access the right help at the right time from the right people, so that they can overcome challenges, stay together and thrive.

This means…. we will build upon the excellent local practice in Early Help and Prevention to establish a targeted Family Help Service to support children and families with multiple needs who are eligible for or receiving Child in Need (CIN) or ‘targeted early help’ services.

Child Protection

Establishing family help will result in a new approach to the way families access and receive support. This must run alongside a child protection system that protects all children from significant harm – inside and outside of the home.

This means…. locally developing a child protection system which protects all children from significant harm – inside and outside of the home – led by new, expert-led, dedicated multi-agency child protection teams including social worker lead child protection practitioners, alongside an information and support offer for all parents in child protection.

And, ensuring families have access to information, advocacy and support, and benefit from a widened family group conferencing offer.

Family Networks

Our vision is that every child’s right to a family life is prioritised wherever possible. Family networks are essential in supporting families to stay together and thrive. When this is not possible, they can themselves offer a safe, loving and stable family home and keep children out of local authority care.

This means…. involving the wider family in decision-making at an earlier stage throughout the system, and providing practical and financial support via family network support packages to help them keep children safe and well at home

Spotlight Session

The WSCP delivered a number of introductory spotlight sessions about the Pathfinder throughout April and May. The recording of one of the one hour briefings is available on the Spotlight Session page:  https://www.wirralsafeguarding.co.uk/learning-event-safeguarding-presentations/
Please note – you will need to use your training login to access the presentation.

Getting Started

During April and May 2024 we will be finalising the project plan to shape the broad areas of work we will shape to test and learn from. Once our project plan has been approved by the Department for Education (DfE) we will work intensively with all of our partners, as well as families to shape the actions we will need to take to deliver all elements of the Pathfinder.

Beginning in July 2024, and running through to March 2025, we will implement, test and learn from our new and innovative ways of working.

The DfE will be with us every step of the way, supporting what we are doing and evaluating how what we do will inform practice across the country.


We will add to the resources as the Pathfinder develops

Seven Minute Briefing

DfE FFC Pathfinder Page:

Frequently Asked Questions
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Contact Us

The Pathfinder is being locally led by two programme leaders:

Rebecca Hardy – Programme Leader, Practice
David Robbins – Programme Leader, Partnerships

Please contact us with any questions


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