Problem families: Case worker intervention 'works'

Young people Louise Casey said a dedicated case worker was key to turning lives around

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A government scheme aimed at turning around the lives of the most troubled families in England is said to have produced "life-changing" results.

Early intervention by a dedicated case worker has reduced crime among those people involved by 45%, says the head of the troubled families programme, Louise Casey.

Anti-social behaviour has gone down by 59%, her latest report suggests.

But the Social Research Unit charity said the programme was not a "panacea".

The scheme aims to help 120,000 of the most troubled families by 2015.

It was announced a year ago, with central government funding of about £500m, and a further 60% of funding from councils.

Ms Casey published her report on Saturday, saying that cases of truancy, exclusion or bad behaviour at school were also cut by 52%.

She said that a case worker dedicated to the family was one of the key features identified as making the scheme effective.

Ms Casey told BBC Radio Five Live: "(We need) one worker for one family so they actually know who they're working with and what actually needs to change in that family.

"A worker that's honest and direct with them, so it's not faffing around. It's saying: right, kids do actually do have to go to school, I will be there at 7.30 until you get your kids up on you own and get them to school.

"[It's about] showing people that have got terrible backgrounds themselves of care and abuse, who have had no love and no proper parenting themselves.

"[It's about] teaching them to be parents and helping them bring their kids up properly," she added.

'Persistent challenge'

Considering the family as a whole, giving "practical 'hands on' support" and taking an "assertive" approach were also key.

So-called training academies for local authorities will be organised by the Department for Communities and Local Government next year, where best practice for intervention will be taught.

Start Quote

We think that it's positive but we don't necessarily think that it's a panacea”

End Quote Sonia Sodha, Social Research Unit charity

More than 40,000 families are expected to be helped in this financial year.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said the report was a "crucial step towards building a wide campaign of support behind the work we are doing to break an inter-generational cycle of misery and failure".

But Sonia Sodha, from the Social Research Unit charity, said: "Any investment in families with multiple issues is to be welcomed, but we would urge a bit more caution on this.

"The government seems to see it as a panacea policy for troubled families. We think that it's positive but we don't necessarily think that it's a panacea."

Anne Longfield OBE, chief executive of the group 4Children which runs Sure Start children's centres , said: "Troubled families need to receive co-ordinated practical support, assistance and advice from services in order to help them solve their problems and get their lives back on track.

"By helping parents to find employment and get their children back into school, the impact will also be felt by wider society."

Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of charity Action for Children which helps vulnerable young people, meanwhile, urged local councils to avoid providing support for families "on the cheap".

"You get out what you put in," she told the BBC News channel.

"We, and a number of other organisations, provide very high quality support and it really does make a difference," she said.

"It avoids children being taken into care and families spiralling into something that really is avoidable."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    68. Ex Tory Voter

    Link, or you made it up. Google can't find anything to substantiate your claim.

    I don't agree with the original comment as I think violence only leads to more violence, BUT, I don't think you tried very hard to find it with Google!

    Try searching for "72.8% corporal punishment" - You get loads or results that back his comment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    I don't quite understand all those trying to describe this as a Con. political triumph: if it started in 2007, they weren't in power!

    The serious problems really are down to scapegoating. and the attitude that says "they're not quite all there, so punish them". Cheaper not to get nasty and deal with the problems! Punishing them makes it worse, they lash out in the way that society does to them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    There are not 120,000 problem families, there are (estimated) 120,000 families that have a problem, or some disadvantage. Stop peddling this Zombie Statistic, made up by the Government.

    The BBC's own More or Less lead the charge on rubbishing this months ago

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    If it's working, then great. It's a rare but welcome change.
    Now, if we can just get the triple dipsters to collect taxes, stop selling off and privatising everything, who knows, we may actually get somewhere...

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    I guess it all depends on where you draw the line as to what constitutes a troubled family.

    Some people might find the idea of an agent of the state advising them on every aspect of their lives quite helpful, other might find it really patronising.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    This report is largely based on a small amount of of qualitative evidence so it is important to consider its findings with caution. Were those with "successes" under their belts more likely to contribute to it? It would be interesting to know whether the success rate of the family intervention case workers was influenced by their different backgrounds - social work, police, nursing etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.


    Er, if you look closely, I think you`ll find that most of the "lefties" here (myself included) are actually supporting this. It`s the right wingers here that don`t believe it. Funny.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    Maybe this really is all about saving Dave's face. Riots make uncomfortable headlines for Cameron and friends and are not good for the image. Better a quick fix for broken Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    State interference will never work

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    It is good that it seems to be working but I can't help wondering if the real cause is being addressed. How do people get to be that way and why? It may sound stereotyped, but it is quite easy to spot the sort of children that end up becoming problem parents, so why can't something be done earlier. Teaching children self respect and how to respect others must become a higher priority at school.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    "57.Peter Buck

    Sorry the statistical figure for not reoffending after being birched should have read 72.8%. The Home Office tried to hide how successful birching was because it wasn't PC."

    Link, or you made it up. Google can't find anything to substantiate your claim.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    The Lefties on here can't believe this policy is working - ha ha! They refuse to even consider that Piccles and his team of social workers (who actually work) are better at sorting out social issues than socialists like them! Funny.

    Note to Ed the Millionaire Marxist: One Nation was a reality, until your lot ruined it. Now I don't recognise my home town or even understand what they're saying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    There's a corresponding argument that says those that cause problems for others should be locked away. It is enshrined in English law - mollycoddling them isn't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    @ 41. colinwe

    "The problem with the report is we don't how many families the report is based on."

    There's a link to the report and it says that 5,500 families have been through from 2007-2012.

    The report says the government provides £448m(40%) and the councils put in the other 60%

    Total estimated at £10,000 per family or £1,200m in total.

    The bbc got it wrong

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    At least people are trying. regardless of the figures to actually prevent antisocial problem families from being a burden on the rest of society. I've lived on estates with problem families, and the general idea is to just shove them off on some other unsuspecting street.

    If the problems are tackled at the root, like these people are doing.. it'll have a longer benefit for the rest of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    2 Minutes ago
    You can't stop people having children and you can't foster every child - but if you can get in and disrupt the poverty cycle you prevent another lost generation.


    Disrupt also the attitude against education that makes children hide their talents in order to avoid bullying or criticism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    51Adrian Swall

    I therefore assume from your assertions sir...

    You are in The Minority


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