A report provided findings from the evaluation of the CANparent classes trial, which aimed to test a universal offer of high-quality parenting classes to support the development of parenting skills and confidence and to reduce the need for further intervention.
Source: Geoff Lindsay, Mairi Ann Cullen, Stephen Cullen, Vaso Totsik, Ioanna Bakopoulou, Susan Goodlad, Richard Brind, Emily Pickering, Caroline Bryson, Susan Purdon, Gavan Conlon, and Iris Mantovani, CANparent Trial Evaluation: Final report, Research Report 357, Department for Education
An article examined service use, and attitudes to services, from a small sample of parents from high-need families, before and after receiving support from the Helping Families Programme.
Source: Madeleine Stevens, Lucy Harris, Megan Ellis, Crispin Day, and Jennifer Beecham, 'Investigating changes in use of services by high-need families following the Helping Families Programme, an innovative parenting intervention for children with severe and persistent conduct problems', Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Volume 19 Issue 3
A report said that the cost of providing appropriate support and services to meet the needs of all children and families returning home from care amounted to around £56 million a year, while the total estimated annual cost for all failed reunifications was £300 million. The report said that reunifications often failed because families received insufficient support to overcome problems such as poor parenting, domestic violence, parental substance misuse, and mental health problems. It noted some limitations in the data.
Source: Lisa Holmes, Supporting Children and Families Returning Home from Care: Counting the costs, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
An article examined men's motivations to attend a 'fathers only' parenting programme, and the connected role and implications of a number of aspects of masculinity.
Source: Alan Dolan, '"I've learnt what a dad should do": the interaction of masculine and fathering identities among men who attended a "dads only" parenting programme', Sociology, Volume 48 Issue 4
A report provided findings from the Dad Project, which examined the needs of new fathers and looked at how to strengthen the relationships between fathers, their child and his or her mother, and the services that worked with them. The report outlined ten 'top tips' for people working with families during the perinatal period (before and after birth), which covered issues such as improving professionals' understanding, aiding engagement and communications, and supporting both parents in caring for the baby.
Source: Sally Hogg, All Babies Count: The Dad Project, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
A think-tank report said that many social housing estates in Britain had experienced decades of neglect and had entrenched and generational social problems (including 'endemic' domestic violence). Drawing on case studies of good practice, the report said that such estates would benefit from locally-based intervention involving local people, based on good local intelligence, and supported by inter-agency collaborative working. It said that existing resources should be better deployed, that encouraging the reporting of crime was crucial, and that women needed to be supported through the provision of, and support for, male perpetrator programmes, sex and relationships education, and interventions to empower women in deprived areas through education, employment, and parenting support. The report made a range of recommendations, including: for an 'Estates Recovery Board', to complement the Troubled Families team, pooling funding from relevant government departments; and for the police and crime commissioners to establish multi-agency 'Estate Recovery Teams' to devise estate recovery plans.
Source: Gavin Knight, The Estate We're In: Lessons from the front line, Policy Exchange
A report examined how welfare reform and austerity policies affected work with vulnerable families in Scotland. It said that more families were presenting to services with crises that arose from the cumulative effects of benefit sanctions, benefit delays, and price inflation, and that this also had an impact on pre-existing health and relationship difficulties. Services had reported an increase in complex cases, and a need to delay intensive family work in order first to stabilize home conditions and ensure that basic material needs were met. It said that resource limitations were leading to services focused on those with more severe needs and early years work, which meant that opportunities for early intervention and work with vulnerable teenagers may be missed. The report discussed the findings in the context of ongoing policy work in Scotland.
Source: Kirsty Scullin and Susan Galloway, Challenges from the Frontline: Supporting families with multiple adversities in a time of austerity, NSPCC Scotland/Barnardo's Scotland
The government announced family policy measures, including: for an expansion of the Troubled Families programme; for a ï¿½19 million adoption support fund for local councils; for additional leave rights for adoptive parents, prior to adoption; for the Home Office to look into the recording of mothers' names on birth certificates; for the piloting of age rating of online music videos; and for a family test to be included in impact assessments on all government policies from autumn 2014.
Source: Speech by David Cameron MP (Prime Minister), 18 August 2014
Links: Speech | 4Children press release | 4Children press release | Children England press release | Contact a Family press release | Gingerbread press release | BBC report | Guardian report | Inside Housing report | Telegraph report
A report examined the early work of the Troubled Families programme, describing the families who entered the programme up to December 2013 and examining the type of presenting issues. Noting caveats regarding the nature of the data, the report discussed the implications of the findings and how local authorities were changing the way they worked with families.
Source: Understanding Troubled Families, Department for Communities and Local Government
A report said that children's centres were not receiving the regular data on births and arrivals that was needed to ensure that families received the support they needed. It said that the failure of local authorities and health services to provide this information routinely meant that many vulnerable families might be left unaware of available services. It also meant that children's centres found it more difficult to meet Ofsted expectations (thus affecting their inspection ratings). The report called on the government to clarify a legal duty for local authorities and health services to share data with children's centres.
Source: Kadra Abdinasir and Lucy Capron, The Right Start: How to support early intervention through initial contact with families, Childrenï¿½s Society
A report examined the early implementation of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court in London, which was established to work with parents who misused substances and were at risking of having their children removed.
Source: Stephen Whitehead, Building Better Courts: Lessons from London's Family Drug and Alcohol Court, New Economics Foundation
A think-tank report examined the social impact of family breakdown and made a range of policy recommendations, based on the principles that children fared better when living in a two parent family, and that family breakdown was preventable.
Source: Fully Committed? How a Government could reverse family breakdown, Centre for Social Justice
A report presented early findings from the data submitted by local authorities as part of the first round of submissions for the Family Monitoring Data element of the national evaluation of the Troubled Families programme. It said that the data was in its very early stages, that it was of varying quality, and that there was some uncertainty as to whether the data was representative of all troubled families going through the programme.
Source: Ecorys UK, National Evaluation of the Troubled Families Programme: Interim report – Family Monitoring Data, Department for Communities and Local Government
A report examined the costs and contribution that residential parenting assessments (assessments to inform care proceedings, carried out in residential children's centres) made to effective decision-making. It examined patterns of use and expenditure across local authorities, and looked at report recommendations and subsequent court decisions.
Source: Emily Munro, Katie Hollingworth, Veena Meetoo, Katie Quy, Samantha McDermid, Helen Trivedi, and Lisa Holmes, Residential Parenting Assessments: Uses, costs and contributions to effective and timely decision-making in public law cases, Research Report 370, Department for Education
A report evaluated the second year of the Families First programme in Wales, which aimed to improve the design and delivery of local authorities' services for families and, in particular, to improve families' experiences through offering needs-driven, whole family support, and co-ordinating services. It said that stakeholders' and families' views were positive about the impact on both local service organization and families' experiences of services, with stakeholders perceiving that the programme had led to improvement across key aspects of service delivery, and families reporting a difference in the nature and co-ordination of support. Successful results included improved behaviour, well-being, and relationships within the family. The report said that commissioning processes had taken longer to establish than originally anticipated, and work processes were still being refined, which the authors said reflected the degree of change in the way authorities worked and the requirement for cultural change. The report summarized areas of effective practice and those where further change was required. The evaluation was ongoing.
Source: Ipsos MORI and Ecorys, Evaluation of Families First: Year 2 report, Research Paper 64/2014, Welsh Government
A think-tank report examined British society after the economic downturn and proposed changes to the systems of support for families, young people, older people, and those facing social exclusion, and reforms to social security, employment support, and housing policy.
Source: Kayte Lawton, Graeme Cooke, and Nick Pearce, The Condition of Britain: Strategies for social renewal, Institute for Public Policy Research
A report examined the work of Family Information Services in Wales. It said that there were extremely high levels of satisfaction with the services, but some were underperforming or not conforming to the statutory standards. The report said that one-quarter (25 per cent) had cut their outreach services and one-third (33 per cent) had increased them, leaving geographically inconsistent support. The report called for: local authorities to fulfil their statutory duties to provide services, and for the Welsh Government to hold them to account; better online information and greater use of social media to reach families; more formalized collaboration with other services, such as health visitors; and for resources from similarly targeted services (such as Flying Start, Families First, Communities First, and Family Support Services) to be co-ordinated in supporting Family Information Services.
Source: Duncan Lugton, Jill Rutter, and Katherine Stocker, The Work of Family Information Services in Wales in 2014, Family and Childcare Trust
A report by a committee of MPs provided its findings on two government programmes for families facing multiple challenges: the Troubled Families programme, which aimed to 'turn around' families that met the government's definition of 'troubled'; and the Families with Multiple Problems programme, which aimed to move adults into employment. It said that a joined-up approach was critical, but the existence of two similar, but separate, programmes run by two separate government departments had resulted in confusion and duplication. The report said that both departments had tried to improve performance but were still experiencing data sharing difficulties and variations in performance, and had not yet succeeded in increasing the pace of the programmes' progress. The report made recommendations to improve clarity, monitoring, and accountability, and to learn from good practice.
Source: Programmes to Help Families Facing Multiple Challenges, Fifty-first Report (Session 201314), HC 668, House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee, TSO
A survey examined children's centres, asking practitioners and parents what they valued and where resources should be prioritized in the future. Key findings included: over 90 percent of respondents agreed that the local children's centre was important to their community; 87 per cent wanted funding to be prioritized; and almost 80 per cent supported the principle of providing a universal point of access with specialist support offered to vulnerable families. The report also discussed respondents' views on which services should be prioritized, how joint working between health services and children's centres could be improved, how to identify those in most need of services, and how to secure the future of children's centres.
Source: Heather Ransom, 'Developing the Future Purpose for Children's Centres': Findings from the National Children's Bureau survey of practitioners and parents, National Childrenï¿½s Bureau
The government responded to a report by a committee of MPs on Sure Start children's centres.
Source: Foundation Years: Sure Start children's centres: Government response to the Committee's Fifth Report of Session 2013-14, Fifth Special Report (Session 201314), HC 1141, House of Commons Education Select Committee, TSO