Troubled families

In Kent the government’s Troubled Families programme is fully integrated into Early Help and Preventative Services, and families receive intensive support through the work of our Early Help Units.

About Early Help

Early Help means taking action to support a child, young person or their family early in the life of a problem or as soon as it emerges. We provide a service that can be accessed at any time and place that suits you.

Find out more about how Early Help can help your child and your family.

Phase 1

Phase 1 involved meeting our target of 2,560 families between 2012 and 2015. We achieved this target. Of the 2,560 families turned around, 2,172 were for improvements in education, crime, and anti-social behaviour and 388 were for at least one family member returning to work.

Phase 2 expanded programme

Phase 2 of the Troubled Families Programme ran until March 2020, and has been extended for a further year depending on the government's next spending review. There are 6 criteria:

  • crime and anti-social behaviour
  • education
  • children in need
  • out of work or at risk of financial exclusion
  • domestic abuse
  • health.

Families must meet the following 4 principles to be considered as ‘worked with’ under the Troubled Families programme:

  • there will have been an assessment that takes into account the needs of the whole family
  • there is an action plan that takes account of all (relevant) family members
  • there is a lead worker for the family that is recognised by the family and other professionals involved with the family
  • the objectives in the family action plan are aligned to those in the area’s Troubled Families Outcomes plan.

The family will be deemed ‘turned around’ when all the criteria have significantly improved for a sustained period, and at this point a claim can be submitted.

The programme required Kent to turn around 9,200 families by March 2020. To achieve this target, the programme must identify substantially more than 9,200 families. All families known to Early Help Units and family support commissioned services are assessed against these 6 criteria.

Kent achieved this target and was one of only a few local authorities to hit 100%. A reduced target of 1,541 has been put in place for the 2020 to 2021 year which recognises the challenges of engaging families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earned autonomy

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has reviewed its funding model, and have introduced a new model called ‘Earned Autonomy’ which provides upfront investment to enable faster service transformation and drive high quality support to families both during the lifetime of the programme and beyond. Kent went through a rigorous selection process and is now one of 14 local authorities to have been granted Earned Autonomy.

Kent has used its first two years of Earned Autonomy to secure increased integration of services to offer efficient and effective support to families, post-2020. We invested in 3 core strands of work:

  1. Streamlined referral pathways to ensure families receive the right help at the right time and developed IT systems to support this.
  2. Made better use of community-based resources by building closer relationships with voluntary and community sector partners, increasing co-location opportunities with health visitors, and worked closely with schools to develop integrated early help and social care services that enable children to be supported earlier through a joint delivery approach.
  3. Developed consistent and smoother processes for integrated working between early help and social care, including step-up and step-down, and for supporting adolescent risk, to improve families’ experiences of using support services.

Supporting the programme

If you know a family who could benefit from support from Early Help, visit our Early Help team website for further information and advice.