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Early help service transformation maturity model: A practical guide and toolkit for local authorities and their partners delivering the Troubled Families Programme

The new Troubled Families Programme is working to achieve significant and sustained progress with up to 400,000 families with multiple, high-cost problems by 2020. This is backed by over £900m of central government investment.

The new programme is working with families who have a wide range of problems: worklessness and financial exclusion, poor school attendance and attainment, mental and physical health problems, crime and anti-social behaviour, domestic violence and abuse and children who need help, including children with Special Educational Needs and Children In Need.

The programme will help to reduce demand and dependency of these complex families on costly reactive public services and will deliver better value for the taxpayer. A dedicated key worker considers the problems of a family as a whole – they organise services to grip the family’s problems, and works with the family in a persistent and assertive way towards an agreed improvement plan.

As part of this, there is enormous scope to transform how public services work with families who place a disproportionate burden on services. This ‘service transformation’ should ensure that an integrated, whole family approach to early intervention with families is the norm by the time the programme comes to an end in 2020.

This model and the toolkit answer a need that has been identified by local authorities: to clearly explain what we mean by service transformation, with measurable indicators of progress that can be easily monitored.

Service transformation is such a vital part of the Troubled Families Programme that we will want to ensure that every area is using this model and toolkit to make robust assessments of how they are doing and plans for what they need to strive towards. This will be picked up in the dialogue areas have with the Troubled Families National team including through visits and spot checks.

Local authorities and their partners, geographical characteristics, prevalence of family problems, systems, governance and leadership are inherently different from place to place. So this model and toolkit has been designed so it can be adapted to meet local circumstances.

How the model has been developed

Evidence base

The Early Help Service Transformation Maturity Model draws upon a number of existing models that have been developed to measure public service transformation. In particular, it draws upon the approach used to benchmark local areas deployed by the previous Government’s Public Service Transformation Network, and the Early Intervention Foundation’s maturity matrix1.The maturity model also incorporates best practice on improving local public services from the Institute for Government (IfG) and the Local Government Association (LGA). Their recommendations have informed our approach, in particular on the importance of peer challenge and support as a tool for improvement, supporting learning between areas to improve outcomes and the importance of transparency around standards in service provision.

Consultation with local areas and national partners

Not only did many local authorities make the case that guidance and advice on service transformation should be developed, they and their partners have played an important role in developing the model. We have worked extensively with them to refine the model so it can be as effective as possible in practice.

We have sought feedback on the model from local authority chief executives and received written and verbal feedback from over 50 areas. We also discussed the model at Troubled Families Programme regional meetings and at workshops with Troubled Families Co-ordinators (TFCs).

Additionally, a number of local areas volunteered to ‘champion’ test the maturity model over summer 2016. This involved:

  • talking to families about their experience of services
  • looking in detail at local evidence sources
  • conducting a desktop exercise to test a particular strand of the model
  • developing ways to capture and score feedback locally
  • seeking views of frontline practitioners at multi agency forums
  • talking to local partners about the model at strategic steering groups and network structures and at regional meetings
  • using the model to capture “next steps” for local service transformation

The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) Troubled Families Group has been closely involved in the development of the model, led by Deputy Chief Constable Simon Nickless.

We have shared this model with the Cabinet Office, HM Treasury, Home Office, Department for Education, Department for Health, Ministry of Justice and the Department for Work and Pensions and across other teams in the Department for Communities and Local Government. Their engagement and feedback will help us develop a shared language to discuss public service transformation and an agreed set of principles across government.