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What we do


Cornwall’s children’s social care service is recognised as one of the foremost in the country. This is despite low levels of funding, higher levels of deprivation and increasing demand. We are the only ‘Outstanding’ authority in the South West. Our performance in key areas is comparable with, or better than, those we consider to be ‘best in class’. (These are local authorities rated Outstanding by Ofsted). We are ranked fifth nationally in the top 10 performing councils for high needs. 

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According to Eurostat, Cornwall is the second most deprived region in Northern Europe. Independent research by Newton identified we are in the lowest 20% funded children’s social care services nationally. We receive around £435 per child. This is compared to the highest of more than £1200 per child.

Cornwall has around 110,000 children and young people under 18 years, and 43,000 young adults aged 18-24 years. Many of our communities have levels of child poverty, by the government’s own measures, of 35-40% plus. Around 480 children are identified as being at risk of exploitation each year. At any one time, approximately:

  • 1,000 children are Elective Home Educated
  • 112 Children are Missing Education
  • 177 Children are Missing Out on Education

Each year we support: 

  • 3,000 children with a high level of Special Educational Needs and Disability
  • 10,000 requests for early help
  • 5,000 Multi-Agency Referral Unit (MARU) referrals about child welfare and safety concerns
  • 5,000 social work assessments
  • 450-460 children in care
  • 320 care leavers

We have responsibility for ensuring that the needs of children and young people are addressed across Cornwall. We work with our partners and together with other agencies in line with the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment. We work together to secure the best possible start for children and young people. Some of our services are delivered jointly with the Council of the Isles of Scilly.

Together for Families is made of up three service areas:

View the Together for Families structure chart

What we do: 

Disabled Children and Therapy Services

We work with children and young people with severe and enduring disabilities and illnesses. We provide early support, portage, carry out assessments and care planning. We also provide occupational therapy.  We also provide a wide range of short breaks. These give disabled children and young people additional learning experiences through play. They also offer carers a break.

Area-based Children and Family Services

We provide a range of early help for families to help them overcome difficulties. This aims to help and protect the most vulnerable children and young people in Cornwall. These services include:

  • the Family Information Service
  • Early Help Hub
  • family hubs
  • access to a wide range of family support and parenting programmes
  • targeted youth support for the most vulnerable young people
  • a multi-agency referral unit for accessing children’s social care and
  • the full range of statutory social work services

Children on the Edge of Care Services

We provide a specialist, multi-disciplinary service to support children and young people on the edge of care. The aim is to prevent family breakdown and to keep children out of the care system, either at home or with their wider family.  This service incorporates the youth offending service for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Children in Care and Care Leavers Services, including Fostering and Adoption

We provide the full range legally required services to support children in care and care leavers. The service leads on:

  • empowering children in care and care leavers
  • supporting children in private fostering arrangements
  • receiving and supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children
  • providing specialist support to kinship carers, including special guardians and
  • life-long adoption support

Children’s Commissioning

We work with commissioners in health services across education, health and social care to work towards One Vision. This is a shared understanding of need, priorities and outcomes. This has a commitment to evidence based practice, and agreed performance measures.  We lead on procurement and contract management for commissioned services. Many of these contracts are also tendered, awarded and managed on behalf of the Council of the Isles of Scilly. 

Practice Education and Standards

We review the quality of practice and the effectiveness of child plans in helping the child to achieve improved outcomes. We lead on quality assurance and performance management of the whole service. This is done through independent reviews of plans, case auditing and providing feedback on the quality of practice.  We also provide support to respond to allegations of professional abuse.

What we do: 

Early Years Foundation Stage

We work with the School Effectiveness team for children who attend early years provision on school sites. This includes before and after they have started the reception year.

Health visiting and school nursing

Health Visiting 

Health Visitors are qualified nurses with extra training in family and community health. Health visitors work in community based teams with a range of services.

School Nursing 

School Nurses provide confidential advice and health information. This advice is available to:

    • young people
    • their parents
    • carers
    • teachers

School nurses help ensure children and young people stay fit and healthy.  Our school nurses offer health assessments to all children when they start primary and secondary school. This information is used to help plan and improve services for children.

Partnerships, Innovation and Wellbeing

This team commissions:

  • strategy
  • partnership working
  • funding programmes that support complex and vulnerable families

The team works closely with a range of services, organisations and partnerships including:

This is to find innovative approaches to supporting wellbeing and integration of services.

What we do:

All children, young people and families in Cornwall are entitled to world class education. This helps them to achieve the best possible outcomes at every stage. Education is a critical element of the infrastructure of Cornwall. It will be:

  • high quality
  • sustainable
  • flexible to meet the changing needs of the residents of Cornwall from birth to adulthood

We work with partners to deliver improved outcomes for children and young people in Cornwall.

Adult Education and Learning

Cornwall Adult Education Service is a community based organisation. It currently makes use of over 350 venues across the county to reflect its commitment to make learning as accessible as possible. The service seeks to provide a learning programme for all adults in the county. This programme will enable people, whatever their particular needs, to develop their:

  • skills
  • knowledge
  • judgement
  • interests
  • creativity

Children’s Psychology Services

Our services include:

  • educational and child psychology
  • supporting children and young people with emotional wellbeing and mental health needs
  • children with special educational needs and learning disabilities
  • prioritising children who have experienced trauma

Education Access and Sufficiency

We implement the Education and Early Years Sufficiency Strategy. This is to ensure the greatest possible provision of school places across Cornwall. This includes management of all school admissions.  We work to ensure the quality and standards of school infrastructure works. This ensures that the Council fulfils its duties under the Childcare Acts of 2006 and 2016.  

Our work also covers:

  • Education Capital Programmes
  • Policy and Organisation
  • Equality and Diversity
  • Services for Schools
  • Cornwall Outdoors
  • Cornwall Music Education Hub

School Effectiveness

The School Effectiveness Team supports the improvement of education for children and young people aged 0-18 years old. It identifies, develops and sustains effective partnerships with all education providers. It ensures improved outcomes for children and young people. We coordinate school improvement support and challenge for all schools and settings in Cornwall.

We provide strategic and tactical leadership for the Virtual School for Children in Care. This is on behalf of both Children in Care to the Local Authority and those placed into Cornwall by other authorities to:

  • Extend and develop educational opportunities and enable them to access such opportunities
  • To improve the educational achievement of Children in Care
  • Promote the social and emotional well-being of Children in Care

Our Education Welfare Service champions children’s rights to education and inclusion. It also provides services for schools and pupils, including:

  • Elective Home Education
  • education provision for vulnerable pupils

Vulnerable pupils include:

  • children excluded from school
  • children missing from school
  • children unable to attend school for medical / health reasons
  • children without a school place

Special Educational Needs

We support the statutory duties placed on the Council in respect of the Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice 0-25 2015.

We work with:

  • children and young people
  • their families
  • schools and settings
  • health providers and commissioners
  • adult and children’s social care and voluntary sector organisations

We work together to:

  • Ensure children and young people with special educational needs can access the education 
  • Achieve positive outcomes including independence, inclusion and employment, in addition to academic attainments
  • Encourage a culture of high aspiration

Find out more by visiting the Special Educational Needs File

11-25 Pathways to Employment

Pathways to Employment contributes to the Employment and Skills Strategy for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.  The team works with partners to develop and implement a shared strategy for Cornwall which includes:

You can find advice and support via our web pages at