Headlines: May 23rd, 2013

The initiative, which seeks to turn around 120,000 troubled families and was launched one year ago, has changed the strategic approach of councils who have now switched investment into early intervention.

A survey of children’s services staff recently undertaken by Capita One, showed  that  97 per cent  of councils are currently targeting investment in early intervention programmes to achieve better outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and families.

Following the launch of the Early Inter vention Foundation in April 2013, the results suggest that many councils are already focussed on planning and delivering services much sooner to improve lives and reduce the need for more intensive interventions in the future.

Of the staff who responded, 78 per cent revealed that they are engaged in tracking the cost savings associated with schemes designed to provide early help to children and young people in their area. And nearly 76 per cent indicated that it was important to invest in early intervention projects for universal children’s services for this approach to be most effective.

The survey also found that 91 per cent of council staff were undertaking work to predict which children were at risk of living in a ‘troubled family’, as part of the government-backed national scheme to turn around the lives of this vulnerable group.

More than half of respondents said data from schools and academies was the most important source of information for indentifying vulnerable children.

The survey also explored the experiences of children’s services teams in accessing the data they need to identify troubled families in their local authorities. Almost 73  percent of staff who responded said that this was a challenge, suggesting that more work needs to be done to ensure data can be shared more easily between the different teams working with children and families.

Commenting on the survey results, Phil Neal, managing director of Capita One, said: “Whether authorities are introducing schemes to provide early help to troubled families, reduce youth offending or support more young people into work, data has a critical role to play in ensuring the next stage in the early intervention journey reaps rewards.

“The survey results confirm that our continued focus on developing IT solutions that support effective early intervention is mission critical to enabling councils to deliver better outcomes for children, young people and families at risk. We will be working closely with both the Early Intervention Foundation and the authorities that use our software to help ensure the right information gets to the right people at the right time to make a difference.”

The holistic approach of the troubled families initiative has shown that bringing together professionals with different skill sets with funding from a single pot budget is very effective in turning around lives and at the same time  has the potential to deliver billions of pounds in savings by reducing truancy, youth crime and anti-social behaviour  and  getting parents back into work.