The government has announced £1.2m of funding to pay for training and support for South Yorkshire children at risk of sexual exploitation.
The money was applied for by Sheffield Council and will be spent in partnership with Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster Councils to improve the help provided to families at risk of child sexual exploitation.
For vulnerable children in care, the authorities will recruit specialised foster carers with experience in looking after children and young people who have suffered from sexual abuse.
Services for victims will include ‘intensive wrap-around care’ and ‘therapeutic services’ to help them overcome their experiences and keep them safely at home with their new families.
For those young people still living at home, the authorities will use the money to help parents improve their ability to identify CSE and pay for training and support from skilled professionals.
Announcing the new funding at the No10 Child Sexual Exploitation Summit, Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson said: “All children and young people have a basic, fundamental right to live their life free from the devastating consequences of child sexual exploitation.
“This brand new scheme will play a vital role in shaping South Yorkshire’s ability to prevent and protect young people from the very real risk of abuse.
“It will also help us build a more accurate picture of the size of the challenge we face nationwide.
“As a government, we are absolutely committed to eliminating child sexual exploitation wherever it rears its ugly head and I’m looking forward to seeing this project develop over the coming months.”
The scheme is one of the latest projects that have successfully bid for money through the government’s Innovation Programme.
The programme aims to improve child social care.
Coun Jackie Drayton, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “Tackling child sexual exploitation is a priority for us and our strategy of Prevention, Protection, Pursuit and Prosecution is key.
“A recent assessment of our services acknowledged them as being ‘advanced’ and ‘breaking new ground’, with an ‘open culture’ and being ‘willing to tackle and confront difficult issues’.
“We are very pleased to have been successful in our bid to the Innovation Programme to help tackle child sexual exploitation across the region.
“This extra funding will enable us to work with the other authorities in South Yorkshire to develop a consistent approach to working with young people, parents and foster carers to boost the support provided at home and in care.
“We know that a strong supportive parent or carer can be essential in helping young people recover from abuse and escape from risks, so we will work with parents and foster carers to raise their awareness and understanding of child sexual exploitation and build resilience to it.
“We will also be working to provide a new, more intensive type of support with therapeutic services provided at home.
“Tackling child sexual exploitation in each area of South Yorkshire will remain the responsibility of each individual local authority.
“However, we will work together building on our strengths to develop an approach supporting families and foster carers right across South Yorkshire.”