A programme which has helped turn around more than 800 "troubled families" is being extended - with the aim of supporting a further 2,840 families over the next 5 years.

Wolverhampton City Council's Families in Focus scheme, launched in 2012 as part of the Government's 3 year Troubled Families programme, has provided "tough love" in the form of practical support to hundreds of families across the city in the last 3 years.

It has seen levels of youth crime, anti social behaviour and truancy cut and parents put on the path back to employment, and with Wolverhampton successfully meeting the target set by the Government to "turn around" 810 families between 2012 and 2015, it has now been included in the second phase of the Troubled Families programme.

Over the next 5 years, the council will continue to work closely with partners including Wolverhampton Homes, the police, health and education providers, the Department for Work and Pensions and the voluntary sector to bring about "significant and sustained change" to a further 2,840 families.

At the same time, the whole family approach to working with families will be embedded into the everyday practice of organisations around the city.

There are many reasons why people may require help through the Families in Focus programme. In some instances, family members are struggling with drink or drug abuse, have debt problems or poor job prospects, or parents are unable to control their children or ensure they attend school. In other instances, people may have been subject to or witnesses of domestic violence.

So far, 127 families have been helped back into work and a further 86 onto training programmes, of which 55 subsequently secured employment. In addition, nearly 700 families have received support to address issues around crime or anti social behaviour, or poor attendance at school.

Emma Bennett, Wolverhampton City Council's Service Director for Children and Young People, said: "The Families in Focus programme has had a tremendous impact on families in Wolverhampton who are struggling to function properly for one reason or another.

"The agencies involved have worked very hard with some of our most under pressure families, and we successfully reached our target of helping 810 families in 3 years.

"By reaching our target, we are able to press on and help more families than originally anticipated, and over the next 5 years we will broaden the scope of Families in Focus to support people facing other problems, such as poor health. We've also put a framework in place which embeds this new way of working into the processes of the council and its partners."

The Government estimates that responding to the problems caused by troubled families costs taxpayers £75,000 per family per year.

Emma added: "Families in Focus is great news not just for the families involved, but for the city as a whole as it will help reduce youth crime and anti social behaviour, improve attendance at school and get more people in work. It will also reduce the burden on the taxpayer having to tackle the problems these families were experiencing."

  • released: Thursday 30 April, 2015