Holistic crisis intervention

An evidenced family-led service from Kids

“Before KIDS, we were at breaking point. No service seemed to listen to our issues or take them seriously. We all felt very isolated and frustrated. Without KIDS and their dedication to our son and us, I’m very sure that he would have been lost in the system and overlooked. I’m also certain our family life would have been even more strained. With KIDS support, training and understanding, we are a better family and more importantly, our son is happier.”

Despite the commitments in the Long Term Plan and ‘National strategy for autistic children, young people and adults: 2021 to 2026’, sadly we are not seeing the improvements planned: across England the demand for autism assessments has increased by over 25% with over 86% of families waiting longer than 13 weeks, leaving many families feeling unable to cope or manage their child’s needs while waiting for support. Even with a diagnosis, these family’s needs often escalate to crisis point involving a wide range of already stretched professionals including emergency services, community mental health teams and GPs, and in the worst-case scenario resulting in in-patient admissions. It is reported that in 2021 around one in seven of autistic people in a mental health hospital were aged under 18.

This is where the interventions for autistic young people and their families provided by Kids can support in your area, complimenting other services in the community, stepping in when families, young people or professionals working with them identify that they are in danger of reaching a crisis point.

For four years we have been delivering these interventions in Wakefield (Wakefield Autism Support Programme or ‘WASP’). Evaluation of the first 18 months of the service evidenced that of the 100 families who described being in crisis when they reached us, only 6 felt that was still the case after 12 weeks accessing our services.

By April 24 we will have worked with over 900 families and we will bring knowledge and evidence from WASP plus evidence from our other models in order to expand this offer. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you.

What does the service do?

As a tier 2 service taking referrals from professionals including Keyworkers, SENCOS, Paediatricians, CAMHS, Health Visitors and Early Help, we offer a person-centred programme over an initial 12 week period. Interventions are for both parent carers, young people and often the wider family, including siblings. Interventions are tailored to meet the needs and support can be extended if needed.

The service can:

  • Reduce the need for this cohort of CYP to be referred to a core or specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and thus resulting in a reduction in waiting times.
  • Support families when approaching crisis who are newly diagnosed on assessment waiting lists.
  • Support positive behaviour management for CYP.
  • Reduce likelihood of hospital admittance and/or intervention by other specialist services.
  • Support keyworkers as a stepdown resource.

In our initial evaluation at the 18 month stage, 75% of families reported that after receiving support they felt more confident about managing as a parent and saw an improved relationship with their child, 70% were better able to stay calm when things went wrong and 78% felt better able to understand their child’s behaviour with over 82% feeling they were therefore better able to manage the behaviour of their child.
When families were asked about the possible outcomes had they not been able to access the service, an overwhelming 84 % felt their situation would have deteriorated.

Why Kids?

We’re here for children and young people with special education needs and disabilities, young carers and families. We’re on a mission to create a world where all children and young people regardless of need have all kinds of opportunities. We create life-changing opportunities by providing a wide range of support. We have over 50 years’ experience at the front line of services for disabled children, young people and their families.

Kids are trusted by families and professionals, not least because many of our staff have lived experience of parenting an autistic child. Indeed many have themselves experienced their family being at crisis point through the unmet needs of their child. Our Neurodiversity Lead and founder of our first crisis intervention service is herself one such parent. It is through this extensive knowledge of the lived experience of our families that we are able to recognize and understand that as an organisation we need to be agile and flexible in our response.

Our services develop dependent on the ever changing needs of our families and we evolve accordingly. As a voluntary organisation we can build trust with harder-to-reach families and can provide truly person-centered holistic support. All staff working on this model receive high levels of clinical supervision and are supported through the AMBIT approach, aligning with NHS professionals.

How we do it?

LevelSupport offered
1Signposting, triage ongoing support via phone, social media, drop in and Triple P
2Support from a single practitioner either via direct 1-2-1 support or via a group offer via either stream.
Detailed and personalized guidance, and assistance in accessing services.
3Detailed and continuing assistance with a bespoke programme for both child/YP and parent/carer time limited. Delivered via most appropriate route. One 2 one/group/virtual and In person. Attendance at external meetings. Referral on to other appropriate services once outcomes reached
4Complex, multi-agency needs. Possible safeguarding concerns. Assistance in overcoming serious breakdown in communications with school/LA/other services requires intensive support due to personal circumstances

Each family will access the intervention pathway most appropriate for their individual need following triage. The support offered can encompass support for parent/carers, the child/YP or both dependent on identified need at triage. Support can be virtual or in person.

What our families say

“Honestly, Shelley in particular has been invaluable, I don’t think we could’ve got through the past year without her, the way she has connected with my son and supports him is incredible, the support she has given me when other services have let me down has been phenomenal. Kids are supporting 2 of my children and it is improving their mental health and they are genuinely happier. I cannot praise them enough. We’ve had quite a few different services involved and this one has by far been the most helpful and made the biggest positive difference to our lives”

“I contacted Kids in a crisis situation during lockdown. They were very understanding and knowledgeable and offered parents groups and my child a one to one session. My child was unwilling to access the one to one session and we paid for her to have phone calls with a private psychotherapist who was autistic herself. WASP offered myself and my husband a parenting course which we thought was an excellent idea and were very appreciative of being offered this service. Our daughter has autism and PDA and dyslexia and can be challenging. Needless to say, I think the service provided by Kids is ESSENTIAL and the initial conversation I had with the one to one support worker was useful in putting my mind at rest and giving some contacts for other support services who could help us”.

” Being a parent of an autistic child can be a scary and lonely place. Being an autistic child can also be a scary and lonely place. This can be completely turned around with the right support in place. The more funding is put into services like KIDS the fewer long term mental health needs will exist in autistics and their parents in the future.”

“Before KIDS, we were at breaking point. No service seemed to listen to our issues or take them seriously. We all felt very isolated and frustrated. Without KIDS and their dedication to our son and us, I’m very sure that he would have been lost in the system and overlooked. I’m also certain our family life would have been even more strained. With KIDS support, training and understanding, we are a better family and more importantly, our son is happier.”

“Most definitely crisis point. I am not sure we would have got through the summer holidays without Kids . They are now a huge part of our lives and with them we are beginning to function so much better as a family unit. We are beginning to understand my daughters needs much more and her siblings being involved in some sessions has been crucial to their understanding. What I think would be a very valuable session moving forward would be some form of sibling support or sessions. It would really help improve family dynamics if there was some support to help siblings cope with and understand ASD and how that impacts on day to day life.”

What commissioners say

“Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group commissioned Kids to develop a peer-led offer to support families who were in the process of referral or who were on the waiting list for the diagnosis pathway in relation to neurodiversity (the Wakefield Autism Support Programme or ‘WASP’).  The service was to develop a unique model of support for families who were experiencing a crisis in relation to their child’s behaviours which challenge. The model was to be one of building resilience and empowerment with the hope to be able to develop a sustainable approach as this was non-recurrent funding in 2019-20. The service was commissioned in March 2020. We were able to show great versatility and commitment in developing such a service during COVID and were able to effectively deliver virtually across the lock down periods.

WASP have delivered on the aim of the development of parents who do have the resilience and who feel empowered to support their young people and also to go onto support others. WASP have also supported young people to understand their diagnosis and needs and develop strategies which enable them to manage better in a world which is not neurodiverse friendly and to develop skills to advocate for themselves.

The service has continued due to the very positive feedback and evaluation of its approach and its ability to develop and evolve based on this and through its use of validated and evidence-based approaches.

The service has always carried out an initial assessment and triages families based on need, with those families who have a number of risk factors able to receive a more intensive and prompt service offer.

WASP is unique in Wakefield and possibly wider, as it’s a service which is based on the child and young person’s presentation and needs and not on diagnosis. It is led and delivered by those with lived experience.”
Jo Rooney, Senior Commissioning Manager for Children and Young People


“It’s a pleasure working with Kids. The team are all incredibly knowledgeable, professional and passionate about what they do. Their approaches are innovative and highly person centred. They’ve been a huge asset to our project and made a real difference to our children and young people in Sheffield. The young people have really enjoyed the group sessions and feedback has been consistently positive.”
Sapphire Johnson
Head of Commissioning – Children, Young People & Maternity Portfolio (Sheffield)
(Commenting on the “All about me” intervention, a group based intervention designed by KIDS for neurodiverse young people. 129 sessions delivered in 10 schools in Sheffield and now offered as part of our Crisis intervention service.)

What professionals say

“They are unique in that it offers support to both parents and children and has dif­ferent targeted levels of intervention; which is bespoke and unique, WASP offer sup­port to families, children and young people regarding diagnosis and living with ASD. WASP also offer parenting support and interventions which work on the practi­cal day to day help that families need to adapt to managing their child/young per­son’s needs”
CAMHS practitioner

“WASP has improved so many families’ lives and prevented crisis. It’s an invaluable service and Wakefield would be lost without it!!!”
Early help practitioner

Find out more

Contact our Business Development team using the form below or by email on busdev@kids.org.uk

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