The Government’s Supporting Troubled Families Programme was launched in April 2012 with the aim of ‘turning around’ the lives of some 120,000 troubled families by the end of the current Parliament.
The Department for Communities and Local Government defines troubled families as those who:
The families have long standing and complex problems, which the Government estimates costs the taxpayer approximately £9billion a year, most of which is spent on reacting to their problems.
The Programme in Hampshire is targeting some 1,600 families from across the county and will be overseen by a Partnership Board chaired by Councillor Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Communities and International Relations.
The programme will be delivered locally through ten Local Co-ordination Groups (LGCs) based on district council boundaries, headed by a senior responsible officer (SRO). The SRO will co-ordinate local teams and agencies to work with the families involved in the programme.
The approach will be two-fold – centrally delivered intensive support services which will benefit some families, and less intensive, local solutions which will involve delivering local partner services in a more joined up way.
The focus will be providing early help when a child or family needs support, enabling them to access services that will have the maximum impact. Each family’s issues will be targeted as a whole, rather than individually.
Providing intensive and dedicated support in this way will help to:
In Hampshire the programme anticipates working with some 530 families in year one, 712 in year two and 348 in year three, and will link in with existing projects to help families, as well as develop new approaches to tackling long term and persistent issues.
Approximately 60 per cent of the funding to help Hampshire deliver the programme will be paid up front by the Department for Communities and Local Government; the remainder will be paid on a ‘payment by results’ basis. The County Council is also contributing an additional £300,000 each year of the three year programme. Funding from Hampshire Constabulary will also be made available.
At local level, families in the programme can expect:
what the key worker or lead agency will do
what the family will do
what the other agencies involved will do.
The aim of the plan will be to:
The length of time spent working with each family will vary depending on their needs, from a few months to up to a year and beyond.
Hampshire County Council is working with a large number of partner agencies to help families, including:
The Government defines a troubled family as one which has persistent and complex problems, and causes problems to the community in which they live, putting high costs on the public sector.
Specifically, troubled families are:
We have developed Local Coordination Groups (LCGs) for each area. These groups are made up of a number of local public sector organisations who already work with the families. The groups are responsible for using their local knowledge to identify families who may benefit from the early targeted help.
The multi-agency Local Coordination Groups will be responsible for identifying families that meet the troubled families definition criteria (see above). These groups will be responsible for engaging with local partner organisations who may suggest families that would be most appropriate to be referred into the programme.
‘Troubled’ families cost the taxpayer a significant amount of money per year and have a negative impact on the communities in which they live. With significant pressure on public finances, now is a good time to try to find new ways of supporting these families before their issues and problems escalate. This should be seen as a preventative programme, ie one which seeks to deal with problems early on, thereby enabling families to care and look after each other, and improve the wellbeing of the communities in which they live.
The majority of these families will already be known to local public services in some way, but specifically we will be trying to find new ways to engage and work with them. A key worker or lead agency assigned to each family will work with only a small number of families each. This will mean more frequent visits and contacts, more dedicated time spent with each family, better coordination of public services and a truly flexible approach on the ground.
The families who we believe will most benefit from being involved in the programme, will already have an early involvement with public services in some way – usually through social services, schools support, youth crime workers or perhaps the police. Intensive, targeted and persistent early support could make the difference between ‘turning a family around’, and long term problems becoming the norm.
A key worker or lead agency assigned to each family will be the key to success, and while we will not be able to force any family work with us, persistence will be a key characteristic of the way in which we work.
The Government is providing the majority of funding to support the programme – 60 per cent paid up front, and 40 per cent on a ‘payment by results’ basis. In addition the County Council is providing £300,000 for each year of the three year programme, with Hampshire Constabulary contributing £40,000. This programme is also about the public sector working more efficiently in a joined up way, therefore resources from the partner organisations involved will be actively encouraged as the programme evolves.
To ensure we can provide the best possible support to the families involved, requires a large number of agencies and public sector organisations to work together.
Depending on the circumstances of individual families, different agencies may take a leading role.
The programme is founded on the basis that new, more innovative ways of working need to be developed to help the families involved – more of the same, will not lead to the improvements we want to see.
Clearly a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not be the answer, as what may work in one area could be different from what works in another. The key will be flexible, tailored and intensive support at the earliest possible opportunity, alongside public sector agencies working together in a more joined up way around the whole family, rather than just individual family members.
Quite simply, if we see lasting improvements in:
If we see the above, we will know that some of the new ways of working and approaches are producing sustainable results. We would also expect to see improvements in the health and wellbeing of both the individual families and the wider communities in which them live.
The programme will include an independent evaluation of the ‘early help’ provided and how effective the new ways of working prove to be. This will inform the future design and delivery of services beyond the three years of the programme.
Hampshire County Council news release 15.02.13
Hampshire County Council news release 27.02 13