Family Intervention Projects drive improvements

Family intervention projects (FIPs), the government’s “tough love” intervention for chaotic families, have seen two thirds of participants no longer involved in antisocial behaviour.

An independent evaluation by the National Centre for Social Research into the impact of FIPs, until March 31 2009, today revealed that 66% of the first 699 families to complete the intervention no longer display anti-social behaviour. Among other improvements, poor parenting had been reduced by 57%; housing enforcement actions, including evictions, by 68%; truancies, exclusions and bad behaviour at school by 55%; and child protection concerns by 43%.

Following the success of the projects, children’s secretary Ed Balls today called for social landlords to join children’s services departments to bid for a share of the £15m Challenge fund, announced by Gordon Brown last month. The fund comprises £7.5m from DCSF and £7.5m from social housing providers. Bidding guidance was issued today to help agencies develop expansion proposals for the projects.

“FIPs are a life-line that prevent families spiralling out of control. The evidence shows that intervening early with the most challenging and vulnerable families in this country works. Without this type of very tough and consistent intervention many of these families would face losing their homes, criminal convictions or having their children taken into care,” said Balls.

The targeted intervention projects assign dedicated key workers who coordinate multi-agency support to help the most challenging families overcome issues including antisocial behaviour, youth crime, school absenteeism, drug and alcohol addiction and domestic violence.

Clare Tickell, Action for Children chief executive, said the “tough love” approach helped families deal with the often complex issues underlying disruptive behaviour. “Crucially, it also helps to tackle emerging issues within a family early on to prevent problems from arising in the first place.”

The government announced funding to roll out FIPs in the 2006 Respect Action Plan and, following successful early evaluation, set up 42 new youth crime FIPs, targeting high-risk families, with a target of reaching 20,000 families by 2011. The Youth Crime Action Plan announced that that all local authorities would receive funding for a FIP aimed at preventing youth crime, while the 2008 Budget announced funding for 32 FIPs aimed at tackling child poverty. The government will publish the first evaluations of the later projects early next year.

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