An evaluation of family intervention projects (FIPs) has shown that they have reduced crime and antisocial behaviour.
The research, commissioned by the government, found that the more time family intervention teams worked with families the greater the chance of a successful outcome.
Out of 7,231 referrals, 67% had family intervention, 26% did not meet referral criteria and 3% declined the invitation. Issues such as poor parenting, relationship or family breakdown, domestic violence and child protection problems fell by 65% among families subject to intervention. Just under 2,000 families had completed a family intervention by 31 March 2010.
The results mean the programme is likely to become the government’s favoured method of dealing with families with complex problems, through the use of pooled budgets.
The Department for Education also released the second interim evaluation on the national roll out of Parenting Early Intervention Programmes, including programmes such as Incredible Years, Triple P, Strengthening Families Strengthening Communities and Families and Schools Together.
The researchers found that although councils had so far been successful in targeting the most disadvantaged parents, there were also benefits in recruiting a broader spectrum of parents in order to optimise group dynamics and achieve better outcomes.
Effectiveness, when rolled out on a large scale, also depended on programmes remaining faithful to the original models of implementation.
Overall they found that 79% of parents completing the courses showed improvements in mental well-being while three quarters of all parents reported reductions in either parenting laxness or over-reactivity. Serious conduct problems in their children dropped by a third from 59% to 40%.
In a third report, also released by the government yesterday, the impact of Sure Start children’s centres on five-year-olds and their families was assessed.
The research showed that although there were similar rates of obesity among the children, there was a drop in those who were overweight in Sure Start areas compared with similarly disadvantaged areas and they recorded better physical health.
However, there were no differences in other child development markers despite parents in Sure Start areas providing a more stimulating and less chaotic home environment for children.
There was a decrease in workless household status among Sure Start parents; however, the rate of depression among mothers was higher and they were less likely to visit their child’s school for parent/teacher meetings or other arranged visits.
The authors stated: “While the results are modest, when compared with results from the earlier cross-sectional study, they raise the possibility that the value of Sure Start children’s centres is improving, but greater emphasis needs to be given to focusing services on improving child outcomes, particularly language development, if school readiness is to be enhanced for the children served.”
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