Funding for the Troubled Families programme, which aims to tackle the needs of a whole family, addressing problems such as domestic abuse and debt, is due to end in March 2020. In an Association of Directors of Children's Services survey, 88 per cent of authorities said losing government funding would have a devastating impact, with three-quarters stating nearly all early help services would be cut or significantly reduced.
Former housing minister James Brokenshire said he was keen for the scheme to be renewed, although he highlighted potential improvements such as rebranding the scheme to avoid stigma. However, no decisions can be made around the continuation of the programme until the government's delayed Spending Review takes place, and there is no date for that at present. The Early Intervention Foundation has said it will be working with government departments over the next few months to support a coherent response to early intervention through the Spending Review.
Troubled Families workers may be employed directly by a local authority or a partner agency. Increasingly, the funding is paying for training and data systems for a range of professions, including family workers, youth workers, social workers, housing staff, police, health and work coaches, with support for families embedded in a wider service offer rather than in a dedicated Troubled Families team. Often the offer has a name which focuses on the strength of families such as Stronger Families or Families First rather than "Troubled Families".
There are three roles within the programme: keyworkers; co-ordinators; and employment advisers. Keyworkers work directly with the family and 60 per cent hold NVQ Level 4 or above, while 31 per cent have NVQ 1 to 3, according to a 2017 evaluation of the programme. Co-ordinators lead a team of keyworkers. They are likely to hold a NVQ Level 4 or above. Most have responsibility for other services as well as the Troubled Families team and may be a senior manager, manager or head of service.
Employment advisers are based in job centres and work to help families move into, or closer to, employment. Many also spend time training local authority and Jobcentre Plus staff. Two thirds hold NVQ Level 1 to 3, while 29 per cent hold a Level 4 or above. The most common route into the role is through working as a work coach or employment adviser, or a disability employment adviser.
In 2018/19 the programme developed an online good practice resource for local teams, aimed at supporting performance, as well as running workshops for local authorities and their partners. More in-depth case studies are being compiled to support long-term sustainability for early help post 2020. Other training varies depending on the local authority. In Leicestershire, for example, Troubled Families Employment Advisers train keyworkers as well as working with families directly. Some areas are strengthening the early help skill set with formal qualifications and induction packages, while others are running broader programmes to develop early help skills among the wider workforce including police officers, nurses, council staff and teachers.
Core Cities UK, a group of 10 major cities outside London, has invested Troubled Families programme funding to create a workforce development programme that works with frontline staff and managers to ensure whole-family working can be supported across a whole system. The approach was piloted in Newcastle, which has not continued with the scheme due to capacity issues, and Sheffield. Other cities such as Liverpool and Nottingham are now implementing the scheme.
City & Guilds is extending its suite of Level 3 and 4 Awards and Certificates in Work with Parents qualifications, designed to support individuals who work directly with families as parent support advisers or as part of their role.