‘It was a good day’

There’s been quite a bit of coverage of the Troubled Families Programme today, some of it linked to a report published by the Centre for  Crime and Justice Studies, so this post is just bringing together a few bits and pieces in one place.

The Troubled Families Programme: the perfect social policy? – Briefing note for the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies

Is the success of the government’s troubled families scheme too good to be true? Society Guardian article

‘Fast policy’ in action: how the Troubled Families Programme expanded without any evaluation – LSE Politic & Policy blog

Successes of the Troubled Families programme ‘too good to be true’ says report – Community Care blog

Troubled Families programme ‘wastes millions of pounds’ Children & Young People Now article

Multi-agency programme ‘probably a waste of money’, claims researcher, Police Oracle article

The government response to the Guardian article was “All the evidence is rigorously audited and each claim made by a local authority represents measured improvements. The government is expanding this work so that more families can benefit from this innovative approach.” I’ll do a blog about this later this week, but for now, the best way to end is with a quote from one local authority worker (there are others) who commented on The Guardian website:

Crossley is right. I am responsible for collating information for our council’s payment by results claims and the phase 1 rules did not require us to work with the families we were claiming. I found this troubling and had many conversations with counterparts in other councils, but went along with it. The phase 2 rules (The Financial Framework for the Expanded Troubled Families Programme dated March 2015) impose no ‘worked with’ requirement. Everything changed in August 2015 when we were told (without consultation or discussion) of new conditions. The claim I was preparing went from about 200 households to six.

The wider question is whether this is a sensible use of public money: from where I stand it is. The teams actually delivering the service are able to be effective for a simple reason: focus. In other words they have small case loads and can stick with families for long enough to be effective, unlike (say) social workers who have five or ten times the case load. Not all interventions work but a lot do – as we would have expected because this way of working was developed by Action for Children 20 years ago and we have solid data on it. I sometimes spend time with our family intervention teams – we have some great people – as it’s good to hear their stories. Dealing with the team in London is another matter, often clouded by their belief in the Data Fairy. The DF is incredibly useful but for a tiny detail: she doesn’t exist.

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