Dagenham charity’s parenting project facing closure due to lack of funds

PUBLISHED: 11:00 21 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:00 21 June 2018

The Parenting Pathways project is run by the Sycamore Trust Picture: Sycamore Trust

The Parenting Pathways project is run by the Sycamore Trust Picture: Sycamore Trust

Sycamore Trust

A project that helps parents with learning difficulties to care for their children could close if it is unable to secure further funding.

The Parenting Pathways scheme has been run by Dagenham-based charity Sycamore Trust UK since 2015 and in that time, has enabled 30 families who were facing a child protection order to improve their parenting skills and keep their children.

It was introduced after the charity identified a lack of support for expectant parents with a learning difficulty, especially those who had previously had a child removed or faced a guardianship order once their baby was born.

In most cases, they found that the parents had no prior opportunity to learn how to bring up a child or to develop the skills required at a level they can relate to.

Jean Rayner, from the Sycamore Trust, said: “We work with some of the most vulnerable members of society.

“Some of these young mums have no idea how to care for a new baby and they are often receiving no help from partners or family.”

After receiving funding from the National Lottery, the Parenting Pathways project has helped families across Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge by either keeping them together or reuniting children with their parents.

But that initial funding has run out, and the charity says it has asked Barking and Dagenham Council for support - but claims the council said there is no money available.

The charity estimates that the scheme has saved the taxpayer more than £1.5 million in the last three years based on an estimated cost of £42,000 per child in care.

Cllr Maureen Worby, cabinet member for social care and health integration, said: “Barking and Dagenham Council commissions a number of areas of work from Sycamore Trust UK and appreciates the work of the organisation in the borough.

“Central government cuts mean tough choices have to be made when it comes to supporting a number of organisations. These decisions are always difficult, but we want to ensure we are getting the very best outcomes for our families with the limited funds we have available.

“The council has a number of parenting programmes including those run in our Children’s Centres and schools and others provided by external agencies.”

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