Implementing a response to Families with multiple problems
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Implementing a response to Families with multiple problems Wendy Weal Deputy Delivery Manager DCSF. Importance of the family. Parents are a strong influence in determining outcomes for young people Research from Parenting Early Intervention Programme shows:

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Implementing a response to Families with multiple problems Wendy Weal Deputy Delivery Manager DCSF

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Implementing a response to Families with multiple problems

Wendy Weal

Deputy Delivery Manager


Importance of the family

Parents are a strong influence in determining outcomes for young people

Research from Parenting Early Intervention Programme shows:

  • Parenting support almost halved the number of parents who classified their children as having significant behavioural difficulties

  • Parents reported included being calmer with their children, more confident in parenting, and giving more time to talking and listening to their children.

    Impacts on educational attainment are well documented:

  • Parental interest in education is four times more important than Socioeconomic Status (SES) factors in influencing attainment at 16

  • Parental involvement has a bigger impact on attainment at 7 & 11 than the quality of the school even controlling for social class

    Families are often a source of resilience …….But can also be a source of risk…

Parental characteristics and family circumstances are strong predictors of future problems

  • Parental problem drug use associated with neglect, poverty, physical or emotional abuse, separation and exposure to criminal behaviour

  • NTA estimate 120,000 children living with adult drug users in treatment

Parental drug misuse

Alcohol misuse

  • Alcohol misuse identified as a factor in 50% of all child protection cases

  • 1.3m children live with parents who misuse alcohol

Domestic violence

  • 25% children witnessing domestic violence have serious social and behavioural problems

  • Estimates suggest at least 240,000 children exposed to DV


  • Nearly 75% of Serious Case Reviews (2007 study) found that parental mental ill health, substance misuse and or domestic violence, often in combination, were a factor

Parental offending

  • 63% of boys with convicted fathers go on to be convicted themselves

  • children of prisoners have 3 times the risk for mental health problems

  • During 2005 162,000 children had a parent in prison

A small minority of families experience multiple disadvantages and have a range of complex needs

  • Around 142,000 families with children experience 5 or more disadvantages including:

  • No parent in the family is in work;

  • Family lives in poor quality or overcrowded housing;

  • No parent has any qualifications;

  • Mother has mental health problems;

  • At least one parent has a long-standing limiting illness, disability;

  • Family has low income (below 60% median);

  • Family cannot afford a number of food and clothing item

  • Of the 142,000 families experiencing multiple disadvantage, 56,000

  • also experience ‘problem’ child behaviours including:

  • Special Educational Needs

  • Exclusions from school

  • Involvement with the police

  • Running away from home

Families with multiple problems cost society huge amounts of money

Providing integrated support can save money

  • Intensive intervention programmes, such as Family Intervention Projects, provide a cost effective way of tackling the problems of the most challenging families.

  • Average costs per family, per year range from around £8,000 to £20,000. This expenditure is nominal when compared with other costs that can be incurred by these families.

  • One study estimated the costs to the taxpayer as being between £250,000 and £350,000[1] per family per year.

  • [1]Communities and Local Government (2006) ‘Anti-social Behaviour Intensive Family Support Projects: An evaluation of six pioneering projects’. Department for Communities and Local Government: London

Cost to society of not working together can be even higher

  • Learning the Lessons from Serious Case Reviews

  • National overview of serious case reviews (where a child died or was seriously harmed)  found 75% of cases involved parental drug misuse, domestic violence or metal ill-health

  • “The enmeshed interaction between overwhelmed families and overwhelmed professionals contributed to the child being lost or unseen” – Laming report

  • Laming recommendations:

  • Develop guidance on referral and assessment systems for children affected by domestic violence, adult mental health problems, and drugs and alcohol misuse

  • Adult mental health and adult drug/alcohol services should be represented on LSCBs

  • Safeguarding is everyone’s business - Laming One Year On report published

  • S.47 Children’s Act 1989 - LA duty to investigate safeguarding concerns

  • Safeguarding climate

  • Initial and Core Assessments increased by more than 10% (2007/8 -08/9)

  • No. of children who started to be looked after increased by 9% (2007/8 -08/9)

What do we need?

  • A series of changes to culture, services and systems to:

  • Extend the integration of children’s services within Every Child Matters to all services working with children, young people & adults

  • Equip front-line professionals to go beyond signposting and to be confident in identifying wider family risk issues; undertaking whole family assessments; providing family support; and/or making referrals

  • Priority for local services must be to:

  • Identify families in need of additional support and support to stop problems from escalating

  • Strengthen family resilience; recognising parents are most influential factor in child’s life

  • Provide ‘family friendly’ services that prioritise keeping parents in support

  • Developing services which can respond effectively to the most challenging families

  • Strengthen the ability of family members to provide care and support to each other

Identify, Assess and Support

  • Identify families at every level

    • Strategic

      • families known to all several agencies/ASB or crime hot spots? A& E data?

    • Local level

      • Children's centres

      • Schools

      • Substance misuse and adult mental health services

      • Housing and Neighbourhood Police

      • Multi agency panels (Team Around the Family)

  • Whole Family Assessment:

    • Building on the CAF to gain whole family picture. Look at needs, strengths and interrelation of problems of the whole family

    • Needs good information sharing between agencies (protocols if needed)

  • Support plan

    • Wholefamilysupportandmultiagencysupport in order to bring about change for whole family

Leadership and Culture

  • Leadership

    • Ensure strong whole family leadership within the Children’s Trust

    • Whole family working championing at the highest level

    • Establishing area based integrated teams

    • Link to other agendas such as Total Place and Safeguarding etc

    • Use evidence base to market the key features of the Family Intervention service and whole family approach

  • Culture change

    • Services being concerned about more than just ‘their’ client

    • Managers, practitioners and politicians taking responsibility for whole family response

    • Supporting and challenging parents to ‘step up to the plate’ in relation to outcomes for children

    • Keep resourcing whole family systems and culture change and service delivery

Integration between Adults and Children's Services

  • Planning and Commissioning

  • Joint commissioning of family support services between different agencies

  • Commission evidence based programmes and interventions to meet family needs

  • Develop families intervention service

  • Continue to evaluate what is working well

  • Use research evidence

  • Integrated co-located targeted area based services

  • Market the key features of the family intensive service

“Every Child Matters is already transforming the way services are delivered for 0-19 year olds. ‘Think Family’ extends this model to include adults’ services and puts families firmly at the centre” (Social Exclusion Taskforce)

Involving adults services,the missing part of the triangle?

  • ✔Parenting support

  • Promoting effective parenting

  • Increased investment in parenting support in all LA’s

  • National Academy for Parenting Practitioners

  • ✔ Children’s services

  • Investing in the individual child

  • ECM integration of children’s services

  • Investment in education

  • 3,500 Sure Start Children Centres

  • Adults’ services ?

  • Do adults’ services recognise and respond to the parental and family roles of their clients?

  • Are we exploiting the opportunities to tackle the parent-based drivers of poor child and family outcomes?

Guidance produced for a range of services

  • Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services

  • DCSF, DH and NTA alongside the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit guidance on the development of local protocols between drug and alcohol treatment services, Safeguarding Boards and children and family services.


  • 2.Offender Management Services

  • Joint DCSF/MoJ guidance setting out how prisons and probation trusts and children’s and family services should work together to support the children and families of offenders.


  • 3.Mental Health Services

  • The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) have published guidance, endorsed by DCSF, that sets out a whole family approach for professionals working with parents suffering with mental ill health.


Guidance produced for a range of services

4.Neighbourhood Policing

The HO, DCSF, ACPO, YJB and NPIA have produced guidance for neighbourhood policing managers and practitioners on early intervention, prevention and whole family practice

5.Services to Support Young Carers and their Families

Associations of Directors of Adult and Children’s Services published a model local protocol setting out how services should work more closely together to prioritise support person being cared for as well as the young carers.

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