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Troubled Families Programme reduces children in care

Analysis of government programme shows it successfully reduces the number of children going into care

Published on 22nd March 2019

The government's Troubled Families programme has successfully reduced the number of children going into care, an evaluation of the findings has found.

The analysis compared the programme group to a comparison group and found 2.5% of the comparison group were looked after compared to 1.7% of the programme group, a 32% difference for this cohort at 19-24 months after joining the Troubled Families Programme.

The evaluation said this was the "most striking" finding of the analysis.

"The impact on those on the programme is likely to have huge benefits to children’s lives, contributes to managing children’s social care pressures and provides significant savings," said the report.

The programme also successfully reduced the proportion of adults receiving custodial sentences by 25% difference in the 24 months after joining the programme.  For juveniles receiving custodial sentences - 0.8% of the comparison group received custodial sentences compared to 0.5% of the programme group, a 38% difference in the 24 months after joining the programme.

In addition, with regards to juvenile convictions, 4.6% of the comparison group received custodial sentences compared to 3.9% of the programme group, a 15% difference in the 24 months after joining the programme.

The benefits results show a statistically significant difference for adults claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance 19-24 months after joining the programme: 10.5% in the comparison group compared to 9.3% in the progamme group, an 11% dfference.

However, while there were "statistically significant" differences between the groups in the proportion of children on Child Protection Plans at 7-12 months and 13-18 months, there was no statistically significant difference at 19-24 months after joining the programme.

The evaluation suggests a possible explanation could be that the programme is uncovering unmet need in the early stages of intervention and preventing children becoming Looked After Children.

"There is scope to go further. Staff report access to mental health services and other specialist services as barriers to achieving outcomes with families. However, this evidence shows that the programme is making a significant contribution towards improving life for disadvantaged families compared to previous ways of working," the report concluded.

Stuart Gallimore, ADCS President, said: “Troubled Families funding pays for a range of things like family coaching, domestic abuse interventions and positive activities for children and young people. Some of the government’s claims to date about the success of the programme have been challenged but I am under no doubt that it is getting real results in lots of local areas. This is a complex area of work, many of the families we work with are facing multiple issues, such as poor mental health, substance misuse and domestic abuse, but the evidence suggests the programme is making a positive difference to the lives of many children and families. Whole family and multi-agency working is also being strengthened. The pressures we face in children’s services are such that much-needed funding for this programme is currently propping up our efforts to act early and offer support before families reach crisis point. The looming cliff edge of this funding ending in 2020 is very real, and very worrying. We need urgent assurances from government about the future of the programme.”

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