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The Surrey family support programme

What is the Surrey family support programme?

This is Surrey’s approach to the Government’s troubled families programme and has been agreed between the council, Surrey Police and district and borough councils. It is now known as the Surrey family support programme, as feedback from staff and partners has indicated a dislike or misunderstanding of the phrase troubled families.

The name ‘family support programme’ gives a clearer description and avoids stigmatising the families involved.

The programme will see all relevant agencies working as a 'team around the family' (TAF). Each TAF will bring together all the agencies and professionals working with that family.

What is the Government trying to do through its troubled families programme?
The intention of the programme is to target those families who have, and cause, the most problems in their local communities. The programme plans to turn around the lives of families stuck in a cycle of unemployment, alcohol abuse, anti-social behaviour and truancy.

The Government has calculated that on average each of these troubled families costs the public agencies who work with them £75,000 a year, with more costs falling on local government and criminal justice agencies.

Based on the evaluation of some pilot authorities and similar schemes, it is estimated that through a period of intensive support, the overall costs of these families can be reduced, with improved outcomes for family members and their wider community.

The Government aims to turn around the lives of 120,000 families nationally by May 2015.

Who are these troubled families and how many are there in Surrey?
Surrey aims to turn around the lives of 1,050 families by May 2015 and plans to be working with 350 families by April 2013.

The Government has defined troubled families as those families that meet each of the following criteria:

  • families who have children not attending school (Surrey – around 1,700 pupils)
  • families who are involved in anti-social behaviour
  • families who have an adult claiming an unemployment benefit.

Surrey must include those families who meet each of the above criteria. However, as Surrey has low anti-social behaviour and unemployment levels, there are not enough families that fit the criteria, which allows the Surrey programme to develop and work with families that it already knows have multiple problems, but may not necessarily meet each of the above criteria.

A database of families with multiple problems in Surrey is being produced with Surrey Police, boroughs and districts and partners.

How will I know if I need to be involved in a team around the family (TAF)?
Your manager or the relevant district or borough will get in touch with you if one of the families you work with is chosen for the programme.

Will this mean more work for me?
No – all the families chosen to be part of the programme will already be in the Surrey system, so you will already be working with them. It will just mean a more joined-up way of working with partners, a single contact for the family and a single assessment plan, which should help to reduce your workload.

How is Surrey implementing the programme?
The local coordination of work with these families will be led by a small team of staff managed by each borough and district council. The county council, police and other agencies will support these local family support teams.

All relevant agencies will take part in a ‘team around the family’ (TAF) approach for each of the families in the programme. Each TAF will bring together all the agencies and professionals working with the family and over time simplify this support and ensure the families are able to access existing local services.

How will working with partners help?
There is strong evidence from pilot authorities and similar schemes that shows by coordinating efforts with partners around these families outcomes for families can be improved.

How do we know this approach will work?

The approach has been developed through research in other parts of the country, which have applied these sorts of services successfully.

What are the wider benefits of this work?
There are many benefits of the programme, not only for families, children and young people, but also for staff across all agencies. It will change the way in which we work with families in a positive way, meaning the family can access services through a single conversation and will be given a single family plan.

This in turn will see more adults in training, learning and employment, improved parenting skills, better family budgeting and more engagement in education. It will also improve partnership working across agencies, give better value for money and improve community outcomes, therefore reducing distress from anti-social behaviour and offending

Making referrals into the Surrey Family Support Programme a priority
To make the programme a success, our priorities for the next few months will need to include working together with partners. Key to this, is working with the borough and district councils who are setting up Family Support Teams from April - i.e. Elmbridge, Spelthorne, Guildford, Reigate & Banstead, Woking and Waverley. We need to help them scope out their local project and identify families for inclusion in the programme.

The Surrey Family Support Programme needs your help in both identifying families who could be eligible for the programme and in seeking the consent of the family to be referred. Whether you yourself work with a family you think may be suitable or if you manage staff who may be working with suitable families, please take a look at the criteria and guidance below and contact the relevant local Family Support Team.

Materials to help you check the criteria and guidance on how to refer families will be sent out shortly.

For more information please download the leaflets below:

Family support team - families leaflet

Family support team - practitioners leaflet

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