Supporting parents with complex family needs into employment
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Supporting parents with complex family needs into employment

Supporting parents with complex family needs into employment

This session will offer learning and examples from Westminster’s Family Recovery Programme and Child Poverty Pilots that began in 2009.  It will offer insights into work/structures that proved effective in supporting parents on their journey to work

Supporting parents with complex family needs into employment

The Family Recovery Project –

A new way of working with families with multiple and complex needs

Natasha Bishopp

Page 2

Supporting parents with complex family needs into employment

What’s different about the Family Recovery Project?

1. Whole view of the family - Meeting the needs of both adults and children

2. Team around the family - Unified service response

3. Two lead professionals for adults and children

4. Integrated Family Care Planadult and children’s needs - Focused on

outcomes and consequences

5. Real time intelligence function through Information Desk

6. Capacity building - Encouraging resilience

7. Swift access to adults services – Domestic Violence, Substance Misuse

and Mental Health workers

8. Intensive outreach - Fast, intensive, targeted

9. Multi agency response to crime and ASB - Both victims and perpetrators

10. Co-located, multi-agency team - All in one project

Supporting parents with complex family needs into employment

Family referred to project – do they meet threshold?

Overview of process

Consent (for information sharing) gained from family

Information Gathering - Information desk provides detailed overview of family

TAF - Multi agency meeting of all involved with family – information shared

Contract with consequences (Careplan) – agreed by family

We aim to work intensively with a Family for around 12 months

Intensive working 3-4 visits a week outcome focussed, gets things moving quickly

Regular TAF reviews – Highlighting any risk, performance against Careplan, worker supervision, information sharing and Family Involvement

Closure – Hand off to lower tier or community services

Supporting parents with complex family needs into employment

Multi-Agency Information Desk – Unique to FRP


- Senior Analyst

- Analyst

- Police officer x 2

- ASB case worker


The Information Desk draws information (written reports, figures, assessments) from a number of sources through either direct access or contacts within partner agencies, providing a rounded view of the family unique to FRP.


Provides Accurate information on –

- Who the family are?

- Where they live?

- Family Composition?

- Presenting issues / risks?

- Information Gaps?

- Agencies already working with the family?

- What has previously worked and more importantly what hasn’t to Avoid Duplication of costly interventions.

Information desk as Management information function:

The desk has aggregated family specific data to provide statistics on key family outcomes including; health, education, workless and crime and ASB. This function is used for both interim internal and formal evaluations of the project.

Information desk providing ongoing real time updates around risk :

For individual families once engaged with the project, the Information desk receives and disseminates updates on the families, any escalation in behaviour can be acted upon in real time by the network.

Supporting parents with complex family needs into employment

Presenting Multi Agency Information in a new way..


Information desk produces a comprehensive picture of the family (and extended) both initially to support and inform decision making,

then proactively whilst the project is engaged with the family.

The desk produces ‘products’ to support practitioners and highlight any risks to the family, staff and community

Using the I2 Analyst Notebook software, The information desk produces Family Network charts and Family Timelines to support

Decision making.

We have found this very visual method of displaying multi agency information – which can display a context for behaviour to be very popular with all agencies who have used it

Evaluations and findings to date

Evaluations and findings to date -

Westminster Child Poverty Pilots – supporting parents in their journey to employment.

Lucy Taylor

  • Internal evaluations –

  • WCC Cost Avoidance model

  • WCC Qualitative and Quantitative ASB / Crime study

  • WCC Qualitative Comparative Child Protection study

  • Both of which have evidenced a dramatic reduction in Crime and ASB and improved outcomes for FRP Families with Child protection plans vs similar families not engaged with FRP.

  • External Evaluations -

  • University of East Anglia – led by Prof. June Thornburn.

  • Department for Education / York consulting.

  • FIP – NATCEN National Evaluation of FIP projects



The City of Westminster is home to some of the poorest children in the country with the 14th highest level of child poverty amongst the 32 London boroughs. Child poverty in Westminster is particularly complex as Westminster children are ranked in the top 0.1% and bottom 0.1% of income deprivation in England.

Westminster statistics

Westminster Statistics

  • 40.7% of children in Westminster live in poverty despite many having one or more members of the family working;

  • 24% of children in Westminster are living in severe poverty; the third highest in London after Tower Hamlets and Newham and the fifth in England; Severe Child Poverty: Nationally And Locally Save the Children – February 2011

  • Queen’s Park has a Super Output Area with the highest level of child poverty in England;

  • The wards of Queen’s Park, Westbourne, Harrow Road, Church Street and Churchill have the highest levels of child poverty in Westminster;

  • 9,940 children under 15 live in households dependent on workless benefits,

  • 17,000 residents of working age have no qualifications;

  • approximately 33% of parents are out of work; and

  • 3,285 lone parents claim Income Support, mostly concentrated in a few wards.

Westminster families most at risk of living in poverty

Westminster families most at risk of living in poverty

  • Large families – 3 or more children

  • Families with parents or children with a disability

  • Lone and young parents

  • Care leavers

  • Low income earners – in work poverty

  • Families with money management and debt problems;

  • Children of offenders, asylum seekers and recently arrived migrants;

  • Adults and children living families with poor physical and mental health; and

  • Families experiencing domestic violence.

Supporting parents with complex family needs into employment

The importance of secure employment that provides sufficient income, opportunities for training and progression and that balances work with family and caring responsibilities.’

Cycles of Poverty, Unemployment and Low Pay, Goulden C (2010) JRF

Barriers to employment for parents are

Barriers to employment for parents are

Partnership breakdown DVDebt - not being able to manage family finances Fear of leaving benefit system – cost of workESOLHousing issuesNot being able to access affordable, trusted childcareTraining and employment services inaccessible for parentsLack of skills, qualifications, networks, confidence, motivation and aspirationChaotic lives

Health problems which could be the result of above

Westminster child poverty pilots 2009 11

Westminster Child Poverty Pilots 2009 -11

  • Work Focused Services in Children’s Centres

    2.Local Authority Child Poverty Innovation Pilot

Work focused services in children s centres

Work Focused Services in Children’s Centres

Key differences

Key Differences

  • Children’s Centre environment is family friendly unlike the Jobcentre

  • Attendance and Participation is not mandatory

  • Caseload time with Customers is at the Advisers’ discretion

  • Longer and more regular interviews result in more engagement and participation.

  • Faster access to Children’s Centre Services and instant referrals to JCP services

  • Advisers are embedded within Children Centre’s and involved in activities, which increases familiarity, trust and engagement with Parents previously disenfranchised.

Key roles in employability partnership

Key roles in employability partnership

  • Employability Key Worker – to provide IAG for Jobsearch and signposting to other agencies outside of employability agenda

  • Financial Adviser – to carry out a financial health check including a better off calculation, income maximisation ensuring all eligible benefits are claimed, support parents with applying for tax credits, to support parents in being able to budget and plan their finances effectively and debt counselling

  • Childcare Broker – to support parents in accessing affordable, quality childcare. In Westminster provided through FIS.

  • Employer Broker – to work with employers, LA and developers to source a supply of jobs parents can access

  • Training and Education Workers – to support parents in gaining the skills they require in order to access available employment



  • Jobcentre Plus Parent Advisers working within children’s centre teams and schools are more accessible

  • Building trusted relationships across partnerships and with parents in localities key to success

  • For parents to be able to sustain work they must have access to sustainable, quality, affordable, accessible childcare

  • Lone parents with young children prefer their mandatory Group Information Sessions to be held from the children’s centres rather than the job centre

  • Parents want to work but a great many do not want to work full time or would like flexible employment around their children’s schooling

  • The importance of the link between the DHP Manager and Financial Advisers smoothing out process issues for parents so accelerating housing payments

  • Debt is much more of an issue than first anticipated as is supporting parents, especially mothers, to take control of their finances.

  • The need for multi agency staff joint training and development

Supporting parents with complex family needs into employment

I had been concerned that it is seen the only route into economic well being for children is to have parents in employment as soon after birth as possible. It has always been my belief that children are likely to be confident and successful in life if they start out with secure attachments with their parents.I had also been concerned that mothers were being encouraged into childcare employment simply because they are parents and without secure childcare options for their own children. I am pleased to acknowledge that the way that the employability service is working in our children's centre is having a positive benefit on the opportunities available to parents to improve their learning skills, training and employment possibilities.Parents are feeling empowered to make choices about their futures and the needs of the children is not regarded as of secondary importance but is integral to the lifelong learning of the family.Wendy Rowlett, Deputy Head of Centre, Portman Early Childhood Centre

Supporting parents with complex family needs into employment

Natasha Bishopp

[email protected]

Lucy Taylor

[email protected]

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