The New Orleans Intervention Model was developed in the United States and is a relationship focused intervention for families involved in care proceedings. In England two local authorities – Croydon and Tower Hamlets – have been trialling the model. King's College London are currently undertaking a randomised controlled trial (The Best Services Trial – BeST) to assess its effectiveness.
The service is delivered by the London Infant and Family Team (LIFT). It has the support of the Judiciary who have agreed that LIFT cases can sit outside the 26-week rule. In order to be eligible for the trial all the children in the family must be under sixty months old and not be placed with a parent. Eligible families will be identified by social workers and at the first hearing the parents will be invited to take part in the trial. All families will then be randomly allocated either to LIFT or “Services as Usual” (SAU). For families allocated to SAU the proceedings will continue as usual.
LIFT families will commence a twelve-week introductory stage. This involves interviews with the parents, children and foster carers and observations of contact to understand the family dynamics. At the end of this assessment stage a professionals meeting will be held to decide if the family should progress to the intervention stage.
Each family who progresses to the intervention stage will be provided with a bespoke treatment package. This could include support for substance misuse, mental health difficulties and in addressing issues of domestic abuse. The intervention stage will last for five months with monthly updates and a mid-way review.
At the conclusion of the intervention a detailed report will be provided for the final hearing with recommendations for the child's/childrens' final placement. If approved by the court an additional three months of treatment can be offered. Once a decision has been made as to placement LIFT can also provide a further three months support for reunification or a move to a new long-term placement.
Academics from King's College London will continue to monitor the progress of all children involved in the study – both those on the LIFT programme and those receiving SAU – for three years in order to assess which provides the best long-term outcomes.