Together for Families in Cornwall

Together for Families is a multi-agency programme that aims to engage and support families that experience multiple and complex challenges.

Taking a Whole Family approach, the programme brings together a range of new and existing services that can help families overcome challenges and work towards their own positive outcomes.

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The TF programme is expanding into ‘Phase 2’ of delivery which will involve a broadening of the eligibility criteria and a significant increase in the number of eligible families. Cornwall is expected to identify, engage and achieve positive outcomes for 4,050 families between April 2015 and March 2020. 

The expanded programme essentials are described by Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) as:

  1. Prioritise the families with multiple problems who are of most concern and highest reactive cost
  2. Appoint a keyworker/lead worker for each family who manages the family and their problems
  3. Work towards agreed goals for each family for each of the problems which are shared and jointly owned across local partners
  4. Are transparent about outcomes, benefits and costs
  5. Engage in ongoing service reform according to evidence of effectiveness and savings

Together for Families offers additional support to households where there are multiple and complex needs. To access additional resources families must meet at least two of the following criteria;

  • Parents and children involved in crime or anti-social behaviour.
  • Children who have not been attending school regularly.
  • Children who need help.
  • Adults out of work or at risk of financial exclusion and young people at risk of worklessness.
  • Families affected by domestic violence and abuse.
  • Parents and children with a range of health problems.

For more information on the eligibility criteria and programme outcomes please refer to the Family Outcomes Plan

In addition to these national criteria, Together for Families in Cornwall recognises that additional barriers may be preventing the family from achieving their goals. Therefore a selection of services that address mental health issues, substance misuse and domestic abuse are available as part of the whole family approach.

You may be working in any service, with adults, or children, with a family who meet these criteria and you think would benefit from an intensive key worker service.

Maybe you are concerned that a family you are working with are not engaging enough to make your input worthwhile. Perhaps you are becoming frustrated as you see no useful changes happening, even with several services’ involvement.

Some families become disillusioned with services, others show up at irregular intervals, making just enough change to move on, only to return a few months later and services have to start all over again.

Some referred families are also involved with the police, social care or domestic violence services. Others have underlying mental health problems, or undisclosed sexually abusive and/or violent relationships that are linked and reinforcing and may be passed on through generations of the same family.

In such families, approaching problems such as drug use, non-attendance at school or domestic violence, as single issues, may prove to be ineffective and costly.

 Downloadable copy of the Programme Guide for professionals working with families. 

Together for Families in Cornwall aims to reduce risk factors for troubled families, and improve outcomes for both children and adults.

Families are encouraged to set their own targets and it is recognised that a wide range of contributing factors will need to be addressed if these targets are to be achieved.

Local areas have increased flexibility to apply their own eligibility and outcomes criteria under the six main headings provided ‘successful and sustained’ outcomes can be evidenced. It is requirement that improvement is evidenced across every relevant criteria area for a positive outcome to be claimed.

Cornwall’s outcomes can be found in the Family Outcomes Plan.

DCLG evaluation of successful Family Intervention Programmes (FIP) run in 2011/12 identifies five key elements that need to be in place;

1. A dedicated worker, dedicated to a family
2. Practical ‘hands on’ support
3. A persistent, assertive and challenging approach
4. Considering the family as a whole - gathering the intelligence
5. Common purpose and agreed aims

Research from the National Centre for Social Research between 2007- 2012 identified the average percentage reductions in family incidents;

  • Involvement in Anti-Social Behaviour (59%)
  • Involvement in Crime (45%)
  • Truancy/exclusion/bad behaviour at school (52%)
  • Child Protection issues (36%)
  • Poor parenting (49%)

The Together for Families Programme aims to pull together a range of services that will appeal to families and professionals and support them on their journey. This will involve assessing and providing the right level of intensive support, using a range of techniques and strategies to bring about change.

These services include;

  • Family Intervention Project (FIP) - Action for Children
  • Breaking the Cycle Programme- Addaction
  • Employment support
  • Domestic Abuse Recovery Tool Kit
  • Family Group Conferencing
  • Family Support Services
  • Mental Health and counselling services
  • Parenting programmes
  • Community Service Volunteers (CSV)
  • Education Welfare Service

By engaging in an intensive family support programme it is expected that the costs on certain public service in Cornwall can be reduced.
Some of the high cost activities for Cornwall are:

  • taking children into care (fostering, residential care, adoption and the costs of social workers)
  • significant criminal justice costs of children and adults committing crimes
  • housing eviction costs
  • housing benefit payments
  • health costs (GP visits, A&E)
  • drug and alcohol dependency
  • specialist schooling (for example, Pupil Referral Units)
  • Special Educational Needs (SEN) placements
  • Adult Mental Health

“The total estimated financial cost of the 120,000 families that meet the Troubled Families criteria is around £9 billion per year, £8 billion of which is spent on reacting to the problems caused and experienced by these families.

By coordinating intensive, early intervention it is expected that significant savings can be made across the local authority, police and health services”.

Figures provided by local authorities capturing progress made at March 2014, and results for families turned around as at May 2014.

Progress information by the end of March 2014, and results claimed by local authorities for families turned around within the Troubled Families programme by the end of May 2014.

The figures are broken down by all 152 upper tier authority areas in England and can be downloaded from the website.