Volunteers Supporting the Community Through Early Intervention Schemes
Author: Sue Gwaspari, Director Part Time Volunteering, CSV |
Big Ideas CSV volunteers in Child Protection (VICP)
“Volunteers Supporting the Community Through Early Intervention Schemes”
Social enterprise is an increasingly big theme in the current climate of public sector cuts. Not only can social enterprises produce better value services than public sector provision, they are also better positioned to understand ground-level concerns and priorites, and provide more encompassing and successful services.
Early intervention is also an area of increasing attention. With successful early intervention, expensive social remedies may not be necessary in the long-run. The benefits, both for local quality of life and in terms of reduced long-term costs, are potentially huge, yet it is only recently that large-scale attempts have been made to tackle a social problem early on, with the long-term ambition of reducing affliated larger problems. The idea is based on the ‘broken glass theory’, and has previously proven very successful in New York, when Mayor Giuliani clamped down on petty crime, with a significant long-term reduction in major crime.
Community Service Volunteers’ project, Volunteers In Child Protection, utilises the benefits of both approaches. Trained volunteers give time to supporting and guiding families that have been identified by social services, helping them through the expectations put on the families by social services.
Families feel more trusting of volunteers who they can relate to than with child protection officers, and find less stigma attached to this informal support.
The initial success of the project is encouraging. By supporting families at an early stage, CSV have found that less families recieving volunteer support are re-referred to social services, while children with volunteer support are more likely to attend school regularly than comparative children with no volunteer support.
Crucially, this early support has huge savings potential. A child on a Child Protection Plan costs, on average, 40,000 to the state. Support, through a volunteer, costs around 3,000 per family, per year. If these volunteers can reduce re-referrals drastically, as they have shown to be able to, then the reduction of long-term costs, based on a small initial outlay, could lead to significant savings in social service costs.
This is a very interesting project, with great replicability, and we are pleased to be able to present a more detailed account of the project from Sue Gwaspari, CSV’s Director Part Time Volunteering.