A Welsh service providing support to vulnerable families with complex needs is keeping children out of care, according to deputy minister for social services Gwenda Thomas.
The integrated family support services (IFSS) programme is unique to Wales and was rolled out earlier this year. It has so far supported more than 350 families by providing targeted support and helping to connect children’s and adults services.
The service is designed to work with families to make positive changes when their children are at risk of being moved into care or put on a child protection plan. Factors for referring a family to an integrated family support team include substance misuse, domestic violence, abuse or mental health issues.
A recent evaluation of the programme discovered the practice had been used effectively. Families were found to feel significantly more confident in their ability to manage their own problems and challenges, and felt motivated to do so. They also better understood the causes of some of their issues and had seen a partial or full resolving of problems they had faced. However the evaluation also noted that the teams had been less successful with families who lead ‘chaotic’ lives, saying it struggled to motivate these chaotic families to want to turn things around.
Thomas said: “Evidence shows that early intervention in families with complex issues leads to better outcomes for those families and their children.
“IFSS is aimed at families who are primarily referred due to parental alcohol and substance misuse but is also designed to help with other problems that co-exist such as domestic violence or mental health.”
The programme was given £4.5m from the Welsh government for the continued delivery of the service across wales in 2014/15.