Social Exclusion Task Force puts onus on families not individuals

Local services will be encouraged to support adults within the context of family units, rather than as individuals, in a new £16m approach launched today for supporting disadvantaged families.

The Cabinet Office’s Social Exclusion Task Force aims to develop a system where “the family” is thought about at every level across local authorities, the third sector and government departments.

This approach was outlined today in the Social Exclusion Task Force’s second report, Think Family.

In April it will launch a £16m Family Pathway pilot programme, which will be led by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, to develop solutions on the frontline to improve services for families at risk.

Out of this funding package, £3m will be invested into six Family Pathfinders to support child carers. 

Children’s minister Beverley Hughes said: “Building more effective preventive support around the family will help ensure that young people in families affected by illness, disability or substance misuse do not fall into burdensome caring roles.”

The programme aims to improve the outcomes for the whole family by increasing “coherence and collaboration” between children’s and adults’ services, as well as between adult local services, by having joint strategic planning and commissioning processes for disadvantaged families. 

The Think Family approach encourages services to follow four principles which are developing a joined-up support system, looking at the whole family, providing family-centred support and working in partnership with adults to build on family strengths.

At today’s launch, Les Lawrence, who sits on the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: “If you talk about families you are more likely to succeed than if you talk about adults and children.”

It aims to embed early intervention and prevention within the system and continue investment in other family support projects such as Family Nurse Partnerships and Family Intervention Projects.

Ed Miliband, social exclusion minister, said: “If we’re going to break the cycle of inter-generational exclusion, we must empower local services to always ‘think family’ and enable families to help themselves.”

The Family Pathway pilots will run for three years, during which time the government hopes that the 12 to 15 Family Pathfinder local areas will identify challenges and develop a new model of services for families which will then inform national policy. 

It described this process as a “dynamic model of learning” where local areas will be supported to remove the barriers which “inhibit innovation and co-operation on the frontline”. The DCSF is currently accepting Family Pathfinder applications from local authorities and their partners.

In response to the pilot programme, Clare Tickell, chief executive of NCH, said: “This investment will go a long way in helping break the cycle of poverty and low achievement many face by creating innovative ways to engage with the most vulnerable families, and provide a hub for people to access the support they need.”

More information

Cabinet Office’s Social Exclusion Task Force

Department for Children, Schools and Families

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