Five Rivers Childcare

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Five Rivers Childcare's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Five Rivers Childcare is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Richard Cross, Head of
Assessment and Therapy
Five Rivers are accredited
members of Investing in Children
Five Rivers Child Care has been providing developmental,
attachment, trauma-informed and personalised care for
almost 30 years. Established in 1989 with the founding
of a therapeutic children’s home, they have since expanded
and developed to become a service across England and the
Republic of Ireland. By incorporating psychological assessments
and investing in neuroscience research, they have been able to
develop specific programmes to support the most vulnerable
children and young people. Richard Cross is the head of
Assessment and Therapy at Five Rivers Child Care and explains
their personalised approach to providing care.
While working as a psychotherapist and social worker in 1988, our founder, Pam
McConnell, identified that a number of children were not being adequately served
by existingservices.
She was aware that this was especially pronounced among girls who had been
sexually abused. Children in care were being looked after in large settings with
little distinction afforded to their individual needs, nor focusing on their recovery.
Although the staff were kindly, she often found that they lacked genuine expertise
and felt that this needed to change.
We were established because she saw that the care system could not distinguish
between children’s underpinning needs. Those being abused were particularly
overlooked, and conditions such as dissociation and PTSD were not recognised,
which a therapist would have been able to identify and understand.
»Head of Assessment and
Therapy: Richard Cross
»Founded in 1989
»Headquarters in Salisbury,
Wiltshire with operations
across England and Ireland
»Services: Therapeutic
residential care, education,
fostering and clinical
»No. of employees: 280
Five Rivers Child Care
Highlighting best practice
Assessing the wider
A key facet of our service is
employing a systems thinking basis.
This includes assessing children’s
developmental history that preceded
their introduction into care so that
we can accurately assess the impact
of adversity across all areas of their
lives. Importantly, we do not limit this
process to looking backward. From
the beginning, we also look forward,
keeping focus on our aspirations for
the children. This entails planning for
their reintroduction into education and
trying to embed children into the local
This requires a high level of support
from the beginning. We always
endeavour to provide the most
complete setting to help them
through this difficult opening stage.
Over a period of time, we have been
successful in managing this transition,
and the children whom we support
have been able to re-enter mainstream
education and progress towards
reintroduction into family care through
a step-down process, reducing the
acuity of care.
Following these successes, we were
asked by some local authorities to
provide our services for the next step:
transition into family care with foster
families. With the lack of provision in
this area, we were asked to assist in
finding and training these families.
We have a significant regional
presence across England and the
Republic of Ireland, working alongside
national health services and local
authorities. Although we have grown,
we continue to adhere to our child-
centred ethos. The earlier a child can
receive support and help, the better
their life can become. It is essential that
this is not left to the last minute and
that the right placement is provided
the first time.
The structure of our service
A central foundation of our service is a
long-term outlook. From the very start
of every placement, we work with local
services and the NHS. The clearest way
to demonstrate our process is through
an example.
Two years ago, we began to support
a young person. This person was
out of education and characterised
as unreachable. They had previously
been on multiple placements and
were deeply psychologically distressed.
Everything we did was evidence
based. We always assess the risks
and difficulties of each individual
so that we are able to target and
prioritise the areas to treat. We also
build on their strengths. After doing
this, we are quickly able to help to
build their relationships and make
any destructive behaviours that are
inhibitors to being cared for in lower-
intensity placements, such as foster
Our team of psychologists work
alongside our multidisciplinary team
of carers and teaching staff to help
to identify behaviours and interpret
Five Rivers is keen to
share best practice
and recently hosted a
delegation from Japan
We were
because she
saw that the
care system
could not
them. This uses a clear attachment-
and trauma-informed practice model
that is underpinned by scientific
research and an evidence base. As a
result of using this relationally based
therapeutic approach, this child was
then able to attend school, having
been previously out of education. The
greatest example of their progress was
their approval for entrance into foster
care. Initially, it was never thought
that they would be suitable for this, as
they had been in residential care for
many years.
In order to maximise the impact
of treatment, we have established
integrated systems across our service,
meaning that everybody works
together across disciplines. A key area
in which we try to provide targeted
support is to work in a neurologically
informed manner to improve effective
regulation capacity. This helps to
prevent impulsive and often destructive
behaviour. As a social enterprise, we
reinvest our surpluses into research
and development of support for
children, specialist training for staff
and expanded services for children
within each setting.
Legislative changes within the
While we initially thought that the
Social Value Act 2012 may give us a
welcome boost, it has had unexpected
consequences. Many local authorities
are not assessed on the social value
that they deliver and have not received
the credit they deserve. This has a
subsequent impact on services like
ours. To combat this, we are looking
at placing some of the children
we support into work experience.
This can be difficult, however, as
children admitted into our services
will naturally have gaps in their
education and life experience. Positive
discrimination to try to account
for this would be very beneficial.
Integrated services for children who
become vulnerable adults would be a
positive and compassionate move by
We are also hopeful that some of the
barriers between health and social
care will be broken down, but we
are not encouraged by the style of
procurement in both social care and
the NHS.
Sir Martin Narey wrote two reports
on care provision for children and
young people. Certain local authorities
have used his findings to try to
drive prices down. We treasure our
independence and want to continue
to be able to speak up on behalf of
the children we support. Across the
board, greater support from local
authorities is desperately needed.
While we understand that they often
struggle for funding, it is essential
that care services receive a steady flow
of financial support. We must have
an open dialogue between central
and local government and individual
care providers to ensure that we
are able to continue providing our
services for
children who
adults would be
a positive and
move by our
Five Rivers gives children
a voice in decisions
relating to their care

This article was sponsored by Five Rivers Childcare. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister