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National evaluation of the Troubled Families Programme 2015-2020: family outcomes - survey: part 1

Presented to Parliament pursuant to Section (3) 6 of the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016

This report contains findings from the baseline survey of families (main carers and young people aged 11-21) in receipt of help from the Troubled Families Programme, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).The current programme has three main objectives. Firstly for families, to achieve significant and sustained progress with 400,000 families with multiple, high-cost problems. Secondly, for local services: to reduce demand for reactive services by using a whole family approach to transform the way services work with these families; and finally, for the taxpayer: to demonstrate this way of working results in cost savings.

Every family has to have at least two of the following problems to be eligible:

  • Worklessness and financial exclusion
  • Poor school attendance
  • Crime and anti-social behaviour
  • Children who need help (including Children In Need, children with special educational needs)
  • Physical and mental health problems
  • Domestic violence

Local authorities agree to work with an agreed total number of families over a five year period from 2015/16. Areas commit to prioritise working with the families with multiple problems who are of most concern and attract the highest reactive costs. Local authorities also commit to engage in ongoing service reform. Each local authority must appoint a keyworker/lead worker for each family who coordinates multi-agency support for the family. The keyworker works towards agreed goals for every family for all of their problems. These goals are shared and jointly owned across local partners, such as the police, schools and health professionals.

The current programme allows a high level of local discretion and national flexibility. Local areas have the flexibility to identify and prioritise families of greatest local concern and cost and to commission services locally to meet families’ needs. All local areas have their own local results framework (a Troubled Families Outcomes Plan) which sets out their outcomes and measures.The national evaluation of the current Troubled Families Programme aims to explore the level of service transformation driven by the programme as well as establishing the impact of the family intervention approach on families themselves.

Key strands of the evaluation include:

  • The Family Survey, on which this report is based, a quantitative longitudinal survey of families in receipt of help from the programme in nineteen local authorities
  • The National Impact Study, where individuals in families being worked with by all local authorities are matched to data held by other government departments and outcomes tracked throughout the programme
  • Annual staff surveys, online quantitative surveys of delivery staff (Troubled Family Co-ordinators, keyworkers/local practitioners and Troubled Family Employment Advisors (TFEAs))
  • Qualitative research involving in-depth interviews with staff delivering the programme and families receiving services

This report focuses on the findings from the baseline wave of the Family Survey; a key part of the evaluation that aims to demonstrate whether and how the programme impacts the families involved, focusing on families around the time they start receiving troubled families support. To assess the family’s circumstances, baseline interviews were conducted with the main carer and one young person (aged 11-21). The same individuals will be interviewed again in around 24 months’ time, enabling analysis of how they may have changed over this period.

The Family Survey aims to capture information on outcomes that cannot be monitored through national administrative data but which are vital in understanding the full impact of the programme, such as domestic violence and wellbeing. The survey also profiles the support families receive in different circumstances, and families’ perceptions of the quality and effectiveness of the support.