50,000 ‘chaotic’ families to be sent to behaviour training centres
(Telegraph.Co.Uk – 9/29/09) – By Simon Johnson
Thousands of Britain’s most “chaotic” families will be dispatched to a new network of training centres to improve their behaviour, Gordon Brown has announced.
The Prime Minister said “every one” of the country’s 50,000 most disruptive households will be forced to attend a family intervention project.
He told the Labour conference in Brighton that a “no nonsense approach” to deal with children who indulge in anti-social behaviour and their parents.
Although he did not mention a figure, it is understood an extra £36 million will be allocated to extend the existing network of centres across the UK.
“Family intervention projects are a tough love, no nonsense approach with help for those who want to change and proper penalties for those who don’t or won’t,” he told delegates.
“I first saw this tough approach at work in Dundee where a young single mother who got into trouble with drugs was at risk of her kids being taken into care.
“But within months she was going to college to get a decent job to look after the children she loved.
“Family intervention projects work. They change lives, they make our communities safer and they crack down on those who’re going off the rails.”
The success of the Dundee pilot has already led to similar schemes being set up across the UK
Mr Brown promised that all 50,000 families would be sent to a project by the end of the next parliament, in 2014 or 2015, and would be punished if they refused.
The projects deliver what the Government terms “intensive, one-on-one, hard-edged support” for families where drugs, drink, bad parenting and persistent joblessness are a problem.
By preventing trouble escalating, ministers claim they can save the taxpayer up to £3 billion in the long term.
The Dundee pilot scheme was launched amid concern about the effect on the children of families who were evicted from their council homes because of their anti-social behaviour.
Instead of “moving the problem on”, the project aims to change behaviour patterns and has been successful in preventing evictions.
Mr Brown wrote about his visit to the Dundee scheme two years ago in his book, Britain’s Everyday Heroes.
Later that year, Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said the pilot was the “model” for dealing with tearaway children and their parents.
Action for Children, a charity that runs the project in conjunction with Dundee City Council, said the single mother whom Mr Brown met had left some time ago.
Claire Tickell, the charity’s chief executive, welcomed the Prime Minister’s praise the scheme and the extra funding to extend it.
She said: “Our work in the Dundee Families Project has shown that working intensively to help families deal with the issues that are underlying their disruptive behaviour shows positive effects, not just for the family, but the community as a whole.”
A Dundee City Council spokesman said the local authority was “instrumental” in creating the pilot and it has since been “widely copied” across the UK.
Jim McGovern, Labour’s Dundee West MP, said he was “very proud” that the project had made such an impact on the Prime Minister.
TSA welcomes Government focus on Family Intervention Projects
(dash.com – 9/30/09) by Jon Land
England’s affordable housing regulator, the Tenant Services Authority (TSA), has welcomed the Government’s focus on Family Intervention Projects (FIPs), which will see a crackdown on anti-social behaviour and crime.
Under the new plans, the TSA will be working with the Department for Children, Schools and Families and Communities and Local Government on a new £15 million Challenge Fund.
This funding will be for housing associations and local authorities to identify and provide support to families causing problems within their local community. Some £7.5 million will be provided by social landlords, enabling them to be at the heart of the delivery of FIPs.
TSA Chief Executive Peter Marsh, said: “The TSA will be providing increased focus on this important issue.
“Tenants made it clear to us through our National Conversation that dealing with anti-social behaviour was a top priority. We need to find ways to help families better manage their behaviour so that the problems they create for their communities are dealt with and not just moved to another place.
“We want to encourage greater use of FIPs within the social housing sector as a tool for tackling anti-social behaviour, which will see landlords working with families in trouble to challenge and support them to change their behaviour and get their lives back on track.
“I have seen first hand that FIPs can work. During a recent visit to Tower Hamlets, I talked to the tenants of Poplar Harca housing association and heard how it was the tenants themselves who voted for FIPs to tackle local problems.
“One young woman spoke of how a FIP had quite literally turned her life around. She is the first person in her family who had ever experienced what it was like to get up in the morning and go to work.”
The TSA is developing national standards which will support the delivery of FIPs. Standards on anti-social behaviour and local area co-operation will ensure that landlords take a comprehensive approach to tackling and preventing this issue. The TSA wants landlords to work with their tenants and local agencies to develop standards which reflect the needs of their community.
The Challenge Fund is a voluntary and match funded programme. Further details will be announced shortly.