Big Lottery funds innovative US approach to support vulnerable young children

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The trial of a new programme to support children aged between six months and five-years-old at risk of recurring abuse has received more than 1m in lottery funding.


The project’s aim is to overcome the effect of long term childhood abuse and neglect.

The Big Lottery Fund Scotland (BIG) has awarded the grant to NSPCC Scotland’s Glasgow-based project, which is running a four year clinical trial of the New Orleans Intervention Model (NIM) devised by the Tulane Infant Team at Tulane University, Louisiana.

NIM, developed by Professor Charles Zeanah, is an assessment and treatment programme that helps inform professionals and court decisions on whether maltreated children can be reunited with their birth family or should be adopted into their foster families. Professionals will work with the child’s birth families and foster carers to address their issues through targeted interventions leading to an early resolution in decisions regarding their future.

This funding will develop this programme, for the first time in the UK, and test its impact on children there.

Matt Forde, head of NSPCC Scotland services said, ‘This Big Lottery Funding will help us to test a new approach which could help transform the lives of some of our most vulnerable young children. Experiencing abuse and instability of care at such a young age can scar a child for life and increase the burden on our health and justice systems. If however a child experiences stable, safe, nurturing and loving care as early as possible following maltreatment, their recovery can be rapid and remarkable.’

The funding will enable NSPCC Scotland to develop the programme, in partnership with Glasgow City council, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the University of Glasgow, to test out if this approach can deliver improved outcomes for children in our care system in Scotland.

‘The programme is based on the groundbreaking work of the Tulane Infant Team in the United States which has been shown in the USA to improve parenting behaviour,’ Mr Forde added.

In the US foster children who were returned to their birth families were less likely to experience abuse again. All of the children in the study showed comparable mental health to children who had not been abused in a follow up study after seven years.

Maureen McGinn, the chair of the Big Lottery Fund Scotland, said, ‘We believe our funding will have a significant impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable in our society. Child abuse and neglect often leave lifelong scars. This partnership project led by NSPCC Scotland in Glasgow will allow a rigorous trial of an innovative approach to support abused children to take place here in Scotland. We will hope it will lead to more children being able to overcome the mental and emotional damage of abuse and lead them to have brighter futures.’

In addition to the Big Lottery Fund grant, statutory agencies have made a significant additional investment in their services and there has been investment by the Chief Scientist Office in the clinical trial, so that the programme can beevaluated against existing approaches.

This funding is part of a package of six Big Lottery Fund Scotland, Investing in Community grants totalling £3,390,312.

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