Blaenau Gwent agrees to develop Independent My Support Team (MyST)

Blaeanu Gwent Council agreed today to develop a stand-alone MyST team. This follows a successful collaboration pilot with Monmouthshire Council which has operated since May 2019.

MyST provides a multi-disciplinary intensive therapeutic fostering service for Children Looked After. The team work intensively with children currently in residential care with the aim of bringing them back to live closer to Blaenau Gwent and be placed with foster care or family members. The team also work with those children in care who present with complex needs and are at risk of going into residential care to prevent this from happening.

Since MyST began operating in May 2019 the residential children budget has shifted from an overspend positon to a significant underspend position. This is a direct result of having a MyST and our 14 plus team working hard to move children out of residential care and closer to Blaenau Gwent.

Currently, due to lack of capacity the MyST have a waiting list. This poses 2 risks. Children remaining in residential care for longer than needed and children entering residential care because MyST were not able to offer preventative support. The development of a Blaenau Gwent MyST will bring more capacity to work with Blaenau Gwent children to mitigate against these 2 risks.

During 20/21 Childrens Services have seen a significant increase in the level of complex needs that children are presenting with. It is these children that require intensive therapeutic support which the MyST specialists will be able to offer when their capacity was increased.

MyST work to achieve the following outcomes for children:

• Children placed closer to home which will enable sustained relationships with their families and friends
• Increased placement stability
• Improved school attendance
• Improved emotional wellbeing

MyST aims to improve outcomes for children who have experienced multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and who have the most complex and challenging needs. They engage with the whole support network around the child. It is an excellent example of how the Children and Families Partnership is working together to improve outcomes for children and young people.

The development of the service is aimed at enhancing and improving services for children looked after and young people in the longer term. Bringing children closer to home will enable them to form local support networks in their communities which will no doubt benefit them into the future.

Councillor John Mason, Executive Member for Social Service commented:

“The joint Blaenau Gwent/Monmouthshire MyST has been a huge success and a credit to our dedicated staff without whose commitment and hard work none of this would have been possible. It places our Social Services at the heart of our local communities, now and into the future.

"I am confident that the development of an independent Blaenau Gwent MyST will have far reaching benefits for some of our most vulnerable children and families during their times of greatest need.

"Thank you all for your hard work and support over the last two and a half years.”