West Sussex County Council has pledged to help more than 1,000 ‘troubled families’ turn their lives around under a Government scheme launched this week.
WSCC is bringing together the Government’s Troubled Families Initiative (TFI) with their West Sussex Think Family Programme to help 1,165 families classified as needing help in the county.
The Government claims that across England there are 120,000 such families with multiple problems including truancy, poor health, anti-social behaviour and worklessness and WSCC says it has already started working with those in the county.
The cost to the public purse of these families nationally is estimated to be £9 billion every year or £75,000 per family.
The majority of these resources are currently focused on dealing with problems caused by troubled families rather than trying to reduce and prevent the trouble.
The Government has said the aim of the TFI is ‘to help local authorities get to grips with whole families and deal with their problems at root cause’ and some 388 families in West Sussex will be helped in the first year.
West Sussex’s Think Family Programme has already identified a similar cohort of families and has started work with a number of these families.
It is a three-year programme and WSCC has agreed to appoint a coordinator to oversee how it works in West Sussex.
WSCC has agreed the TFI will work with families in West Sussex who have two or more of the following problems together with an issue of local concern:
1. Young people involved in crime and children, young people and adults involved in anti-social behaviour
2. Children who are truanting or excluded from school
3. An adult on out-of- work benefits in the household
The TFI will provide a range of intensive interventions over a specified period of time.
The outcomes expected are two fold - to stop the impact these families are having on communities and to halt the cycle of disadvantage families are trapped in.
The estimated cost per family would be £10,000 and the Government has said it will pay a £175,000 per year start-up grant for three years and £4,000 towards each successful intervention.
The council will measure the success of the programme by looking at a number of factors including whether the children have returned to school, whether their offending behaviour has reduced or if they are on a pathway back to work.