Wales’ unique family intervention programme is helping to keep families together

A unique Welsh service that provides support to vulnerable families with complex needs is helping to keep children out of care and families stay together.

During a visit to Pembrokeshire, the Deputy Minister for Social Services Gwenda Thomas met with families who had been supported by the Welsh Government’s flagship early intervention programme, the Integrated Family Support Services (IFSS). Earlier this year, the Deputy Minister announced that the IFSS had been rolled out across Wales. This programme has supported more than 350 families across Wales in the last year.

A local authority may refer a family to an integrated family support team when there are concerns about the welfare of children, such as substance misuse, domestic violence or abuse, history of violent or abusive behaviour or mental health issues.

Families who experience such difficulties might be at risk of having their children placed into care or having their names put on the Child Protection Register. IFSS work with families to help them to make positive changes, so that any concerns are lessened and children can stay safely at home. They provide targeted support and help connect children and adult services, focusing on the family as a unit.

The results of a recent evaluation of the programme showed that the IFSS programme had enabled families to:

• Resolve a number of the issues they had faced such as substance misuse, acute mental health problems, problems with parenting, housing, gaining employment, children’s truancy and problematic/abusive relationships. These had been either fully or partly resolved following their engagement with IFSS

• Feel significantly more confident in their ability to manage their own problems and challenges in the future, and also now felt motivated to do so

• Better able to understand some of the causes of the issues that they had experienced (including long-standing mental health problems).

The IFSS received £4.5m from the Welsh Government for the delivery of the service across Wales in 2014/15.