An innovative programme designed to help Gloucestershire’s most troubled families break out of the vicious circle of crime, anti-social behaviour and truancy is going from strength to strength.
The Coalition Government launched its Troubled Families initiative at the start of 2013 with the stated aim of trying to turn the lives of 120,000 families around by the end of 2015.
Gloucestershire committed to help 900 of the county’s most problematic families, calling its own programme Families First.
And performance data published by the authority shows that the county council’s scheme is thriving.
In the first quarter of 2013/14 there were 322 families actively engages in the Families First initiative.
And that figure grew to 443 by the second quarter.
However, the reach of the programme has continued to expand with 660 families involved as of the third quarter of 2013/14.
The county council is expecting to reach its target for the year of helping 750 families when the final batch of data is published for the final quarter of 2013/14.
A family is eligible for the Families First scheme if an adult is on out of work benefit, children are not attending school, children are involved in crime and anti-social behaviour and if a family is of high cost to public services, for example if they use drug and alcohol misuse services.
The county council’s scheme has seen a great deal of success in helping reduce offending and improving school attendance with the families it is involved with.
In the first quarter of 2013/14 it helped 14 families in this area, growing to 111 in the second quarter and to 142 by the third quarter, according to provisional figures.
The number of families officially turned around by the programme in Gloucestershire grew from 27 in the first quarter to 154 in the third quarter.
Councillor Paul McLain, cabinet member for children and young people and strategic commissioning, said: "The good work we're doing with Families First is earning us national recognition which is not only a great tribute to the team, but more so to the families themselves.
“Families First is less expensive in the long term and helps people before they reach crisis point, giving vulnerable children in Gloucestershire a better life and keeping them safe."
The Government committed to its Troubled Families initiative after research showed the UK’s 120,000 most problematic families cost taxpayers £9 billion a year.
And £8 billion of that was traditionally spent on reacting to the problems they cause and experience while only £1 billion was spent on interventions to help address long term problems.
The Government hopes investing in preventative work will help reduce the first part of the equation.