Troubled Families programme to expand focus to under-fives

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The Government’s Troubled Families programme is to be expanded to help an additional 400,000 families, including those with children under five.

louise-casey

Louise Casey, head of the Troubled Families programme

From next month, the programme will be extended to help families with a wider range of problems, including domestic violence, debt and children at risk of being taken into care.

There will also be a focus on improving the mental and physical health of vulnerable families.

For the first time, the programme will target families with children under the age of five, rather than just those with school-aged children.

It will start with helping 40,000 of the 'most troubled families’ in 51 areas, ahead of a national five-year programme from next year.

The programme builds upon the current scheme to turn around the lives of 120,000 vulnerable families by 2015 through reducing youth crime and anti-social behaviour, tackling truancy and getting adults into work.

According to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which administers the scheme, so far more than 110,000 of the ‘most troubled families’ in England have been helped. Of these, over 53,000 have had their lives ‘turned around’.

Findings from research carried out by the DCLG last month revealed that the families identified by local authorities have disproportionately high levels of health problems compared to the general population.

A third of children were suffering from a mental health problem and one in five has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Louise Casey, head of the Government’s Troubled Families programme, said,  ‘Families with an average of nine different serious problems need help that gets in through the front door of their home and to the heart of what is really going on in their lives. The Troubled Families programme has been able to do that by taking a ‘tough love’ approach and dealing with the whole family and all of its problems. This has been the start of a revolution in the way that we work with our most challenging families and which we need to accelerate in the years ahead.’

Helen Berresford, head of public affairs at 4Children, said, 'The Troubled Families programme has the potential to transform the lives of some of the most vulnerable families in the country who have multiple and complex needs.
 
'The announced expansion to families with younger children is very welcome, particularly as we know that the experiences in a child’s first years are crucial to their life chances.
 
'Across the country half a million families are reported to be living on the edge of crisis and dealing with a range of serious problems. Every one of them will need intensive and dedicated support to make a positive difference to their lives.
 
'Services and professionals, including social services, health, housing and Job Centre Plus, need to work closely together to provide joined-up and personalised support. A commitment to expand the role of Children's Centres to become community hubs which co-ordinate services in this way will provide the early help for families they need.'