Governance International Case Study: Intensive family support through prevention and family empowerment in Coventry

Many local authorities run a range of voluntary projects focused on prevention and empowerment of children and young people at risk but lack any evidence of improved outcomes or budget savings. This case study of Coventry City Council, produced by Governance International, shows what can be achieved by a strategic approach to ‘early help’ embedded in co-production with families and partnership working with other agencies.

The main aims of the Intensive Family Support initiative are to improve services to children in need and their families and to promote social inclusion through effective joint working between Care, Education and Health. 

Using a standard methodology, as part of its national Troubled Families Programme, the Department of Communities & Local Government (DCLG) in central government estimated that Coventry had approximately 905 families where children were not attending school, young people were committing crime and involved in anti-social behaviour and the parents or other adults in their life were out of work.

Coventry City Council wished to ensure that these families were not viewed as separate in a ‘stand-alone’ programme but rather were worked with as part of its overall early intervention strategy.

There has been a high focus on empowerment of families, including work with fathers, to build resilience and sustainable behavioural change. Families have to agree and develop their own plan, identifying how they will input into this – e.g. “I need to get the kids to school, this is how I’ll change – I will link up with other parents who take their kids to the school on same route, sometimes we will all go together, sometimes we’ll let our kids go together own their own, sometimes the mums will take it in turn to take all the kids to the school”.

In another example, support staff weren’t getting anywhere with one mum who clearly did not want to reveal all the details of her problems, but another mum she knew, who herself had been through the intensive support programme, told her about all the benefits of working closely with the programme, went with her to see the key worker, where she decided to open up about her drugs problem and began her road to recovery.

“The philosophy of co-production is central to the whole approach. Coventry City Council now promotes strength-based approaches, which means that the whole early intervention approach seeks to work with and help to develop the capabilities of families and all their members.”

You can read the full case study here.