New scheme offers a house as parenting reward

A new scheme rewards troubled families who pass a parenting assessment, with a rented house, paid for by the council.

The scheme, created by assessment service provider One Step at a Time, recently launched to close the gap between residential and community assessment.

Two families, from Cardiff and Christchurch, Dorset, are the first to go through the process which began a few months ago.

Shirley Wainright, service director at One Step at a Time, said families could be recommended to the programme by courts, local authorities, children and family solicitors, children’s guardians or other social care professionals.

Those selected undergo a viability assessment by One Step at a Time and are then placed in a privately rented home in the Midlands – paid for by the families’ local authority – with a team of assessors to undergo a month of basic parenting skills assessment under 24-hour supervision. If successful the family will then live in the house on their own for another 10 weeks with regular unannounced visits by assessors.

If the family is then considered stable, they can take over the tenancy of the house. Wainright said if families were unhappy about moving to the Midlands permanently One Step at a Time would source a house for them in their local areas, provided their council’s gave approval.

Shirley Wainwright, service director at One Step at a Time who oversees this project, said the scheme presented huge savings opportunities for local authorities.

“If a family undergoes residential assessment, that costs around £30,000. Then the court often wants a community assessment as well, which is another £30,000 for the local authority to pay. With our system, courts are satisfied in both areas within a single round of assessment.”

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