Department for Education
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Children’s Minister: ‘Think Family’ to support vulnerable children

- 20 areas will deliver the new £6.5m Child Poverty Family Intervention Projects -

The most vulnerable children in the country will from today receive extra help from local services. The Children’s Minister Dawn Primarolo will launch a package of measures and additional investment for more intensive family support at the first ever ‘Think Family’ National Conference.

The new measures will help the many different types of families at risk, specifically supporting: children living in poverty; children whose parents are in prison; children of parents with drug and alcohol problems; and children who are caring for their parents or other family members.

Dawn Primarolo will also announce today the 20 areas that will deliver the new £6.5m Child Poverty Family Intervention Projects (FIPs). These projects will address the underlying problems that are preventing parents from gaining employment and lifting their family out of poverty - such as drugs and alcohol misuse, domestic violence and mental health problems.

Other measures to be announced at the conference that will promote the joint delivery of services for vulnerable families include:

• A new framework setting out how probation and prison services must work together with children’s services to help offenders maintain family ties and improve support for their children and families.
• New guidance for professionals working in adult drug and alcohol treatment services and family and parenting services to provide more support for children of parents with substance misuse problems, to meet their welfare needs and protect them from harm.
• A £3.6m expansion of the Young Carer Pathfinder projects to 12 new local authority areas to improve the outcomes of children who often miss education due to caring responsibilities at home.
• New indicative ‘Think Family’ grant funding allocations for every local authority from 2010-2011 so that they can plan the recruitment and training of extra professionals to help families at risk, and to provide FIPs for all families that need one.

Children’s Minister Dawn Primarolo said:

“Issues like parental imprisonment - which affects more children every year than divorce - and drug and alcohol misuse can have a devastating effect on children’s development. That’s why it is crucial that local services give the right support to children, identifying their needs early on to prevent them falling into risky behaviour, or worse crime, and repeating the patterns of their parents.

“We know that some families with complex problems can fall through the net. Local services must work together to identify the most vulnerable children, make sure they are given help to cope with tier families problems and protected from harm.

“The package of measures announced today will help professionals working with families and make sure no child or family is left behind. As well as today’s package, our planned changes to the role of children’s trusts will place a clear responsibility on agencies to co-ordinate services to improve the well-being of children and young people. This will further ensure vulnerable children are not missed.”

The Prime Minister announced a commitment to provide FIPs for all families that need them with £26 million additional investment to support 10,000 families each year from 2010-11. FIPs have successfully targeted about 2,600 families since 2006 helping them change their anti-social behaviour and turn their family’s lives around.

Justice Minister, Maria Eagle said:

"Children and families can play a positive role in supporting offenders and give them a reason to turn their lives around. By supporting them in turn, we can help to reduce re-offending and prevent children from being drawn into a life of crime. This guide shows how everyone can work together to do this, and the funding we have provided will help identify children in the most need.

“Our work includes teaching offenders important parenting and relationship skills and making sure their families get good advice and guidance. We help prisoners' families to stay in touch. For less serious offenders, we deliver tough community sentences, where the public can see justice being done. We're also investing £15.6 million to divert vulnerable women, who are not serious or dangerous offenders, from custody, thus keeping families together.

"Crime has fallen by over a third since 1997. All this work builds on that success, helps to prevent future victims, and makes communities safer."

The new guidance and protocol for services working with families with drug and alcohol problems has been produced in conjunction with the National Treatment Agency and the Department of Health. The guidance advises services to adopt a ‘Think family’ approach and identify how the substance misuse is affecting the whole family. Professionals working with these families are also being made aware of safeguarding issues and the importance of linking up with child protection professionals in their areas.

The guidance addresses issues highlighted by Lord Laming in his Progress Report in March 2009 in which he called for better referrals to children’s social care for children affected by parental drug and alcohol misuse.

Chief Executive of the National Treatment Agency, Paul Hayes said:

“Drug workers are not child protection or safeguarding experts, but their role in providing effective treatment to drug dependent individuals means identifying the influences on an adults drug use and what motivates them to stop.

“Questioning what’s happening within the families of drug users in treatment is critical for successful treatment outcomes, both for the individual as well as any family involved, and the new guidance for local protocols clarifies when and how to involve children’s social care. Entering drug treatment is protective: it protects the individual, their children and wider society.”

The ring-fenced ‘Think Family Grant’ includes provision for intensive parenting and family support, including:
• Family Intervention Project (FIPs)
• Parenting Early Intervention Programme (PEIP)
• Parenting Experts and Practitioners
• The roll-out of ‘Think Family’ practice.

Editor's Notes
This press notice relates to 'England'
1. ‘Joint Guidance on Development of Local Protocols between Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services and Local Safeguarding and Family Services’ and ‘Reducing re-offending: supporting families, creating better futures - A Framework for improving the local delivery of support for the families of offenders’ can be downloaded from: www.dcsf.gov.uk/publications

2. The Think Family Grant indicative allocations for 2010-11, which total £89m, can be found at: www.dcsf.gov.uk/ecm/thinkfamilygrant

3. Joint MoJ/DCSF ‘Reducing re-offending: supporting families, creating better futures - A Framework for improving the local delivery of support for the families of offenders’ sets clear expectations for local services, including offender managers, on working with the children and families of offenders. It sets out a vision for a co-ordinated, multi-agency approach to supporting these families, informed by the work of the National Offender Management Service on how this is taken forward within prisons and by probation services.

4. Nearly two out of three boys, who have a mother or father in jail, will go on to commit some kind of crime themselves.

5. The Budget 2008 announced £125 million for 2008-11 for nine pilots to test out innovative ways of determining what is effective in working towards the eradication of child poverty by 2020. £13.5m of this funding is available for 32 Child Poverty Family Intervention Projects (FIPs) – 12 existing and 20 announced today. The new pilot areas are: Cheshire West and Chester, East Sussex , Worcestershire, York, Calderdale , Gloucestershire, Manchester, Derbyshire, Northumberland, Redcar & Cleveland, Suffolk, Enfield, Wakefield, Tameside, Sheffield, Blackburn with Darwen, Bournemouth, Plymouth, Central Bedfordshire and Bedford.

6. The additional £26m investment in FIPs in 2010-11 will be made up of a £15m ‘Challenge Fund’ to deliver FIPs in partnership with social housing providers (£7.5m central funding and £7.5m local match funding from social housing providers), £4m to align Youth Offending Team prevention activity and FIPs (made up of £2m Youth Justice Board funding and £2m drawn from Youth Offending Team local partners) and £7m efficiency savings from within the existing Think Family Grant.

7. Young Carer Pathfinders were announced in 2008 as part of a range of new action on young carers agreed under the National Carers Strategy; the Government committed an additional £3.6m to enable the additional 12 local areas to become pathfinders for young carers. £150K per year (£300K in total over the two year period 2009-10 to 2010-11) is to be made available to the 12 successful areas: Blackburn with Darwen, Cornwall, Hartlepool, Hull, Luton, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Norfolk, Reading, Suffolk, Telford and Wrekin and Wigan.

8. The DCSF launched a new drugs strategy last year to ensure parents get ready access to treatment, to increase the support available through family self help groups, and to intervene earlier, before problems escalate.

Contact Details
Public Enquiries 0870 000 2288, info@dcsf.gsi.gov.uk



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