Building Better Futures – Developing social work practice

Back L-R: Donna Dugan (SEHSCT ) ; Dr Una Lernihan (HSCB) ; Prof Stan Houston (QUB/Trinity) ; Catherine Cooke (NHSCT) ; Julie McGrath (SHSCT) Front L-R: Dr Lorna Montgomery (QUB) ; Helen Dunn (HSCB) ; Sinead Keown (BHSCT) ; Dr Mandi MacDonald (QUB) ; Dairine Mooney (WHSCT)

The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) is committed to developing social work practice and finding new ways of working with families and children to improve outcomes for them.

The Building Better Futures (BBF) project, supported through workstream 3 of the Early Intervention Transformation Programme (EITP) and changed managed by Helen Dunn (CYPSP),  is having a significant impact on practice and helping to transform the way in which social services in family and child care is delivered across Northern Ireland.

Parenting can bring many challenges. When placed in the context of austerity and welfare changes it leaves many families struggling to cope.

Developing relationships with parents, appreciating the context in which they live and understanding the needs of children is crucial in this work. That is why the HSCB is so keen to support and develop good social work practice.

Developing a range of tools for professionals is a key element of the Building Better Futures project.

A key part of this initiative has been the partnership between academic colleagues, practitioners at the frontline and the implementation provided by HSCB.

Helen Dunn opened the recent Building Better Futures Seminar and has led on the BBF framework and championed the model for over 4 years with it being recognised as a “brilliant piece of transformation work with massive potential”.

Also speaking at the seminar, Director of Social Care and Children, Marie Roulston, commended colleagues Prof Stan Houston, Dr Lorna Montgomery and Dr Mandi MacDonald, as well as Helen Dunn and the seminar practitioners from each of the Trusts, for all they have accomplished in this work.

That work has produced a manual, a training resource, a short film an side memoire and an evaluation and there are plans to progress this further.

Speaking at the seminar, Jackie McIlroy (Deputy Chief Social Worker) stressed the importance of early intervention stating; “Today’s event is about recognising the hard work and achievements of the Building Better Futures project, while also recognising that we all have a role in supporting children and young people at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The HSCB is committed to the ongoing delivery of Building Better Futures and to working closely with Trusts to continue to ensure its implementation over the coming years.

Level 1 ACE Training – May/June 2019


ASCERT are delivering a Level One ACE and Trauma Informed Practice Training Programme across the community/voluntary sector in Northern Ireland.

ASCERT welcome all staff and volunteers working across the sector to attend the 3 hour training sessions to enhance their knowledge of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Trauma Informed Practice.

For further information please click below to view the schedule of training dates, venues and details on how to register.





EITP Trauma Informed Practices Resources Live – QUB Evidence Review and NI ACE ANIMATION

The Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland (SBNI) commissioned Queens University Belfast to complete an international trauma informed practice evidence review.

A full evidence review report has been made available alongside several sector specific trauma informed research documents from health, social care, child welfare, justice and education perspectives.

The EITP Trauma Informed Practice Resources are now available to download:

 Trauma Informed Practice Evidence Review Reports

The Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland (SBNI) commissioned Queens University Belfast to complete an international trauma informed practice evidence review. The reports are now available to download on the SBNI website

NI ACE Animation

The NI ACE Animation is now available to view on Vimeo and Youtube at the following links.

VIMEO (no subtitles) –

VIMEO – Subtitled –



YOUTUBE – subtitled –


Play Matters – Hanging Out

The latest Play Matters briefing is now available.

This briefing explores what play means to older children (pre-teen/teenagers) and highlights to parents that older children still need time and space to chill out, relax or ‘hang out with friends during their day. Spending time with young people is a great way for parents to stay connected with their child and included is a few tips and ideas for parents to consider.

View the briefing here.



Play for Parents

PlayBoard NI are holding Play Awareness sessions for parents and carers.

This half-day Play Awareness session will strengthen parents understanding of play and its importance to the growth and development of their children. They will also gain practical ideas which they can incorporate into their homes or local community to enhance opportunities for play.

The session aims to help parents:
Better understand the importance of play for children and young people’s holistic health and well being.

Explore how play facilitates attachment and builds relationships between children and parents.

Have a greater understanding of the range of play types, their importance in terms of supporting growth and development; and how children and a variety of play types can be supported within home/community settings.

Explore the role of the adult parent/carer in the play process and how parents can best facilitate play in a way that meets their child’s needs.

Understand the importance of risk and challenge for the development of resilience, independence and life skills.

Gain practical play ideas that can be applied within the home and/or local community to enhance opportunities for play.

For more information view the flyer here.

These sessions are expected to fill quickly and early booking is advised to avoid disappointment.

To discuss your booking requirements or to book a space please contact Karen Witherspoon at 90 803380 or at