Families First News

The latest news

Troubled Families Funding Update

Following the Government Spending Round on 4th September, we have now received confirmation that the Troubled Families funding will continue for a further 12 months until the end of March 2021. We have no further information on what this funding will be and are expecting an announcement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government shortly. Please see the message from the Ministry below:

We are pleased to tell you that continued funding has been confirmed for the Troubled Families Programme for 2020-21, as part of the one-year spending round. This great news was announced in HM Treasury’s spending review document.

Thank you to everyone that has been involved in supporting families to achieve fantastic outcomes across the country, whether through direct family intervention, analysis, management or strategic leadership. Your success over the past 4 years enabled us to make a strong case for this further funding. We know you are already working hard to embed whole family working across the public sector, and there is still much more to do. The aim of this additional year of investment is to enable you to go further and faster.

It is much welcome news, however like many other authorities; Hertfordshire is having to consider the pressure associated with sustaining non-statutory services within reduced resources.  For this reason, we are being asked to consider how early intervention services could be delivered in the future.  We want to ensure that partner’s views are heard throughout the process and that there are ample opportunities to shape and develop a future sustainable Families First model.

In light of this, we will be hosting a range of stakeholder workshops. To book your place, please contact familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk. You can also continue to feedback your views at local Partnership Boards.

Stakeholder workshop dates:

  • Stevenage and North HertsMonday 14th October now Thursday 14th November, 10am
  • Watford, Three Rivers and Hertsmere - Friday 25th October
  • St Albans and Dacorum – Monday 28th October,
  • East Herts, Broxbourne and Welwyn/Hatfield  - Monday 4th November

We are really proud of all the hard work, passion, enthusiasm and incredible outcomes and the difference that the Families First partnership makes to families in Hertfordshire. We remain optimistic that a 3-year comprehensive spending review in spring next year will provide us with some stability beyond 2021, however we will need to prepare for all potential scenarios.



We need your help!

The Troubled Families Programme (2015 –2020) was developed to achieve significant and sustained progress for up to 400,000 families with multiple, high-cost problems. This is backed by £920m of government investment. This funding supports local areas through a mix of grant funding and payments by results. In addition to the successful progress achieved by families, the programme is also a driver to securing localised transformation of public services working with families with multiple problems through the development of an integrated, ‘whole family approach’. A national evaluation was published in March 2019 about the progress to date and the headlines about the impact the programme is having.

This programme is run from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and managed by upper tier local authorities in England and their partners. The Hertfordshire payment by results element of funding is based upon providing evidence of 4,670 families, across the five years, who have achieved significant or sustained progress against the needs originally identified or families no longer being reliant on out of work benefits through moving into sustained employment. To date, evidence has been submitted for 2,647 families and we now have nine months to evidence the success for a further 2,023 families. Achieving this will generate £1.62 million for the county.

The headline problems for the Troubled Families programme are:

  1. worklessness
  2. poor school attendance
  3. mental and physical health problems
  4. crime and anti-social behaviour
  5. domestic violence and abuse
  6. children who are classified as in need of help and protection.

We need your help! Although we can evidence outcomes for families receiving support from Families First Assessments, Short Term Work, Youth Justice and the work of the Family Safeguarding teams, we are aware that there are a lot of other families receiving support and achieving great outcomes, but the details of these are held on local systems.

Where this is the case, are you aware or specific examples of families you have supported over the last three years, where at least two of the headline problems have been apparent and addressed? Is there also evidence that a worker has led a whole family assessment and action plan, which covers the needs of the relevant family members?

If you can help, please get in touch, as the success achieved could be included in the county submission to MHCLG. For further information, please email Families First support FamiliesFirst.Support@hertfordshire.gov.uk and someone from the Evaluation & Development Team will be in touch.

New Families First Homeless Prevention Team!

The Families First Homeless Prevention Team is a Children’s Services team which aims to help those who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

What is the purpose of the service?

The team aims to achieve the following outcome:

  • A reduction in the number of Intentionally Homeless families requiring support from Children’s Services by identifying and supporting families at the earliest opportunity
  • A reduction in Children’s Services spend per intentionally homeless family by developing plans to ensure families become self-sustaining and are not dependant on the local authority.

Who is the service for?

The team will work with families with children and young people aged 0 - 18 (up to 25 years if they have a special educational need or disability). We work with families who are at risk of becoming homeless or have (or about to) receive(d) an intentionally homeless decision from a local district/borough council.

A family could be at risk of becoming homeless if they:

  • Have a significant amount of rent arrears
  • Have received substantial support via the district/borough council through multiple support plans.
  • Have a combination of the above and are not engaging with support provided through the district/borough council.

What does the team do?

The team can support families by offering the following services:

  • Employment and training support;
  • Help addressing money and debt problems;
  • Benefits advice;
  • Help liaising with your housing providers including through the Personal Housing Plan process.

The team works under the Families First model (Hertfordshire’s approach to early help) and if it is identified that a family who is at risk of homelessness or is intentionally homeless have additional needs other than housing, the Families First, Homelessness Prevention Team is able to identify further support to overcome these issues. Additional problems could include:

  • Support reducing alcohol and/or drug misuse
  • Parenting
  • Mental and physical health problems
  • Parental conflict
  • Domestic Abuse
  • School related concerns – such as your child not attending school

If safeguarding concerns are identified and these additional concerns require a social care response from one of our Family Safeguarding Teams, the Families First, Homelessness Prevention Team will also be able to ensure that this support is provided in a timely way and will continue to work with families to address their housing needs.

Where is the team located?

The team is based within the Children’s Services Department within the Families First Triage team. There is a Consultant Social Worker and 4 Homeless Prevention Officers within the team. The Homeless Prevention Officer’s co-locate with local district/borough housing authorities and split their time between county offices in Stevenage and local district/borough council buildings.

How can the service be accessed?

From 1st October 2019, if a family has been identified as being at risk of homelessness or has received (or is about to receive) an intentionally homeless decision by a district/local authority, partners including housing authorities and providers should initiate a referral to Children’s Services via the Customer Service Centre (0300 123 4043). Further details regarding referrals for new cases can be found here.  

For cases currently open within Children’s Services, a request for a case transfer or request for support should be made by following the standard internal transfer procedures and completing the referral. Families with additional safeguarding concerns, as well as issues with housing will continue to be case held by safeguarding and specialist services and will be allocated a Homeless Prevention Officer to support with the development of an accommodation move on plan.

N.B Families who are ineligible for support as a results of No Recourse to Public Funds will continue to be supported via the Assessment Team.

Families First Assessments – Partners Case Quality Assurance and Key Learning 2019/2020 Qtr1

This is a briefing to share with partners the findings and key learning from a recently completed quality audit of a sample of 20 open FFA cases where the keyworker is a partner agency. The 20 cases were randomly selected from a list of cases registered for a Families First Assessment between September 2018 and March 2019.

The purpose of the audit was to:

  • Assess the effectiveness of the help being provided to children and families through FFAs
  • Assess the quality of practice in line with Families First pathways, including how effectively or not, the FF Practice Standards and guidance is used in our work to support children and families, and how we effectively evidence the impact of interventions in improving outcomes for children and families as part of our continuous improvement cycle to improve the quality of practice  and effectively evidence the impact of interventions through our work.
  • Identify areas of good practice and lessons to be learnt, and areas for further development.


Families First Partnerships, Practice & Development Team Offer

There are 2 main sources of advice for Early Help professionals and Partner Agencies:

Families First Helpdesk – The helpdesk provides support for the Early Help Module (EHM) system and manage all registrations for FFAs or short-term work.

Families First Coordinators - There is a named Senior First Coordinator and Families First Coordinator covering each local double district to champion, promote and support effective use of Families First.  They also provide information, advice, guidance and practice support on Families First delivery model, processes and Early Help Module (EHM) system.

For the full Team offer to Practitioners and Partners and contact details for your local district Click Here

Coming Soon! Families First - Your Voice

As part of our commitment to the voices of children, young people and families we are in the process of setting up a Families First Parent and Carer feedback group. The group will work to provide feedback, offer constructive challenge and input into decision making and planning for future service provision. The feedback will be collated in a variety of ways, from coffee mornings to online testing during website development and our aim is to make it very flexible for parents to have involvement in a way that suits them.

We have a proposed name of "Families First - Your Voice" and a proposed logo below. Once this group has been set up we would like to prepare a timeline of topics that we can address with families and would welcome any suggestions. Please email familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk if you would like to be involved as this group develops.

We will update you soon with a link for interested parents to sign up to.

Parenting Together - Support Programme


We’re pleased to announce The Parenting Together Programme has been live since 1st July and we’re already receiving a healthy amount of referrals.

With many parents already starting their interventions and successfully on track to resolving parental conflict, please remember to talk to any parents you are working with about their relationships and continue to consider The Parenting Together Programme to help provide support.

Want to know more?

Promotional visits As a frontline practitioner supporting our families, we want to make sure you have all the information you need to help you with parents in conflict. If you think you/your team would benefit from a visit from the Parenting Together team or you would like to nominate a team you think would benefit, please get in touch here.

Practitioner Training on Parental Conflict This autumn, we will be holding more training days - If you are in the Hertfordshire area click here to book.

If you are not, please register your interest here for any upcoming dates in your area.


What is The Parenting Together Programme?

When conflict between parents is frequent, intense and poorly resolved, it can harm children's’ outcomes – regardless of whether parents are together or separated.

The risk of conflict between parents is higher at crucial points in family life, such as becoming pregnant, having a baby, a child starting or changing school, or separation and divorce. However, relationship difficulties are often seen as a private matter, and couples tend only to seek help when they are in crisis.

Who can be referred?

  • Parents who are currently experiencing conflict, this does not include domestic abuse
  • Parents can receive support whether they are together or separated, and they can be already in receipt of any level of support from Children’s Services or other services (e.g. open to social care)
  • Parents will be able to access the programmes in community locations and can be supported with childcare and travel costs if needed.Any practitioner supporting families in Hertfordshire, Essex, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire or Southend can make a referral.Using the link below, sign up to The Parenting Together newsletter to make sure you are accessing the most up-to-date referral forms and receiving any new updates relating to the programme. Here you will also find the ‘make a referral’ tab which includes a full step-by-step guide on how to fill in your questionnaires and send them into the team. https://www.parentingtogethersupportprogramme.org.uk/ What are the interventions available? For high level conflict:
  • Eligible parents will be able to access one of four new evidence based programmes; the level and type of intervention depends on the parents’ situation and the level of conflict:
  • For any queries regarding the programme, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at parentingtogether@hertfordshire.gov.uk or call on 01992 555172.
  • How can I make a referral?
  • Who can make a referral?


A quick survey for partners...

We would like to take a snap-shot of how the Families First way of working has been embedded across Hertfordshire's early help services and our partners, so can we please ask you to take the time to complete our brief survey and to also pass this survey on to your colleagues/teams and partners that work within the early help services to complete themselves.

Also if your service attends the Families First Partnership Group meetings, there is a short second survey to get your views on the benefits of these meetings..

Emotional Wellbeing Masterclass - Autumn 2019 Dates


Emotional Wellbeing Masterclass workshops offer a way of supporting parents in Hertfordshire to respond to the mental health and emotional well-being needs of their children. It aims to provide evidence based, early intervention strategies, which focuses on empowering parents to confidently respond to their child’s mental health and emotional well-being needs.

Following the workshop there is an expectation that the learnt strategies are tried and implemented. Additionally the workshop focuses on the parent and child partnership, exploring mental health and emotional well-being needs, providing psycho-education and evidence based early intervention strategies which can then be used to improve your child’s mental health and emotional well-being. 

Parents who have attended the Emotional Wellbeing Masterclass have reported leaving the masterclass feeling empowered to implement the strategies provided in the class and feel they have learnt and are taking away knowledge and understanding to use for improvement in their child’s/young person’s mental health and emotional well-being.

The Parents Masterclass Workshop is for parents only. We are unable to provide a crèche facility at this time, therefore please ensure that you arrange suitable child care when attending the workshop.

  • South Oxhey - 11/09/19 (Primary age).  Otley Way Family Centre, WD19 7TB


  • South Oxhey - 18/09/2019 (Secondary age). As above 


  • Borehamwood 27/11/2019 (Primary age) Aycliffe Road, WD6 4EY


  • Borehamwood 02/10/2019 (Secondary age) As above 


  • Waltham Cross 09/10/2019 (Primary age) – Crossbrook Family Centre, 79a Crossbrook Street, EN8 8LU


  • Waltham Cross 16/10/2019 (Secondary age) - As above 


  • Hemel Hempstead 23/10/2019 (Primary age) – Greenhills Day Centre, Tenzing Road, HP2 4HS


  • Hemel Hempstead 06/11/2019 (Secondary age) – As above 


  • Stevenage - 13/11/2019 (Primary age) - Starfish House, North Road, SG1 4AT


  • Stevenage 20/11/2019 (Secondary age) – As above


CGL: Supporting Young People with drug and alcohol issues

The new CGL Spectrum Families and Young People’s Service has been running for 5 months now and we’d like to take the opportunity to remind you what support they offer to young people with drug and alcohol issues and their families and how you can rerfer.

They offer free treatment for young people under 18 years-old and young adults up to the age of 25 who are having issues with drinking or drug use. The service is free and confidential, and they also work with the families of these young people.

Citizens Advice - Help to Claim

A reminder that Help to Claim is a dedicated service from Citizens Advice. It’s free, independent, confidential and impartial. Their trained advisers can help with things like how to gather evidence for applications or help with how to prepare for a first Jobcentre appointment. More information can be found here.

Safer Places

Safer Places provide support for men and women aged 16 years and over; we cover all of Hertfordshire and parts of Mid and West Essex. We offer a 24 hour advice and information line 03301025811, safe refuge accommodation including for males and those with complex needs, community based outreach support for all risk levels, counselling, legal services, training, domestic abuse recovery programmes and specialist stalking support for DA and non DA victims of stalking.

To make a referral call us on 03301 025811 or e-mail referrals@saferplaces.co.uk. Further information can be found at www.saferplaces.co.uk

Bereaved parents will be spared children's funeral costs

Families grieving the loss of a child will no longer have to meet the costs of their burial or cremation, as a result of a new government scheme.

Every year in England, an estimated 3,800 children die under the age of 18, and there are a further 2,700 stillbirths. The Children’s Funeral Fund (CFF) will come into effect on July 23rd 2019.  

Under the fund arrangements, no bereaved family will have to pay the fees charged for a child’s cremation or burial or for a number of prescribed associated expenses. The fund provides for burial authorities and cremation authorities to apply to government for the reimbursement of the fees which would otherwise be charged to the parent of an eligible child. It also provides for funeral directors to apply for reimbursement of certain associated expenses, including a £300 contribution towards the price of a coffin.

If the person responsible for organising the burial or cremation chooses not to use a funeral director but makes the funeral arrangements themselves, they will be able to claim directly for those expenses from the fund.

The main conditions for the scheme are that the child is under 18 at the time of death or is stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy, and that the burial or cremation takes place in England. The scheme is not means-tested, and the residency or nationality of the deceased child, or of the person organising the burial or cremation, is not relevant either. Regulations are to be laid in parliament today (Monday 1 July), ahead of the Fund coming into effect on 23 July.

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