Agenda Item No. 8


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Healthy Living and Social Care Scrutiny Committee: 10th October, 2016


Report of the Director of Social Services


Update on how the Council is managing increased demand for family support services


Purpose of the Report

  1. To update Scrutiny Committee on how the Council is meeting the challenges of increased demand for family support services.


That Scrutiny Committee:

  1. Notes the approach taken to provide appropriate levels of family support services and to manage growing demand, especially within the service provided by the Families Achieving Change Together (FACT) team.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To ensure that Members are kept informed about service developments.


  1. The Commissioning Strategy for Children and Young People Services 2013-2018 set out how the Council and its key partners intended to meet the well-being and social care needs of children, young people and their families within the resources available. It described the tiered model of services that is in place to guide the way in which resources are allocated and to help with decision-making in individual cases.
  2. The tiered model is reinforced within the Social Services and Well-being Act, implemented in April 2016, which aims to promote delivery of the right services at the right time, working in partnership with families to support what matters most to them.
  3. Work to implement the model within Children and Young People Services and in partnership with other directorates across the Council, the NHS, the third sector and the independent sector has produced significant results. By ensuring a focus on early intervention and preventative action across all service provision for children, we have been able to support families to stay together and to reduce the need for children to be looked after outside of their families. This has helped us to manage demand for care and support at lower levels of intensity/intrusiveness.
  4. We recognise that some of the difficulties which children and young people experience are a consequence of factors affecting other members of the family. On the basis of evidence from programmes such as Flying Start, a consensus has emerged that the best way to support families (particularly those in poverty) is through whole-family services which are provided in an integrated way by a range of agencies and professional disciplines and which are tailored to the needs of individual families. Critical to the success of the Families First programme then is the 'Team around the Family' approach, which has been used extensively across the UK. There is good evidence for positive outcomes.
  5. Most family support services are provided through the use of fixed-term grants from Welsh Government which requires robust arrangements for partnership working between agencies. The Families First grant from Welsh Government is provided to local authorities to improve outcomes for children, young people and families. Each local authority has to develop a Families First Action Plan which sets out how they will implement the programme locally and contribute towards nationally set outcomes. There have been challenges this year, following an 11.65% reduction in the grant funding available. The Families First Management Board has worked hard to maintain the delivery of frontline services and the Vale of Glamorgan programme currently provides funding for the following projects:
  • FACT team;
  • Raising awareness of welfare rights;
  • Disability focus;
  • Partnership for young parents (expanded to cover all of the Vale);
  • Putting families first;
  • Young people support programme;
  • Young carers;
  • C-Card scheme;
  1. Delivered in disadvantaged areas of Wales, Flying Start is a targeted Early Years programme for families with children under four years of age. The programme is universally available to all eligible children and their families in the areas where it operates. The core elements of the programme are drawn from a range of options that have been shown to influence positive outcomes for children and their families. These include:
  • free quality, part-time childcare for two-to-three year olds;
  • an enhanced health visiting service;
  • access to parenting programmes; and
  • early speech, language and communication development.
  1. The Integrated Family Support Service (IFSS) helps families to stay together by encouraging them to take positive steps to improve their lives. Referrals are made to the service when there are concerns about the welfare of children, such as:
  • substance misuse;
  • domestic violence or abuse;
  • history of violent or abusive behaviour;
  • mental health issues.
  1. Families who experience such difficulties might be at risk of having their children placed into care or having their names placed on the Child Protection Register. IFSS works with families to help them to make positive changes so that any concerns are reduced and children can stay safely at home. It provides targeted support and helps connect children and adult services, focusing on the family as a unit. At its last meeting, the Scrutiny Committee considered the 2015/16 Annual Report for the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff regional IFSS.
  2. The Communities First Programme provides funding to narrow the economic, education/skills and health gaps between the most deprived and more affluent areas. The three strategic objectives helping to achieve these outcomes:
  • prosperous communities;
  • learning communities;
  • healthier communities.
  1. The Youth Engagement and Progression Framework aims to reduce the number of young people at risk and not in education, employment or training (NEET). The framework is based around six component elements that aim to:
  • identify young people most at risk of disengagement;
  • provide better brokerage and co-ordination of support;
  • provide stronger tracking and transition of young people through the system;
  • ensure provision meets the needs of young people;
  • strengthen employability skills and opportunities for employment;
  • provide greater accountability for better outcomes for young people.
  1. The Supporting People Programme works with young people and families to provide housing related support to people who are at risk of homelessness or whose accommodation is at risk. The framework is based around the following outcomes:
  • Feeling Safe                                               
  • Contributing to the safety and well-being of themselves and of others                                               
  • Managing accommodation                                               
  • Managing relationships                                               
  • Feeling part of the community                                               
  • Managing money                                               
  • Engaging in education/learning                                               
  • Engaging in employment/voluntary work                                               
  • Physically healthy               
  • Mentally healthy
  • Leading a healthy and active lifestyle
  1. A multi-agency Management Board oversees both Flying Start and Families First and the membership is common. It comprises representatives of the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board (UHB), the Glamorgan Voluntary Services (GVS), Learning & Skills (which also leads on the 14-19 initiative) and Children and Young People Services (which also leads on the IFSS). A Poverty Alignment Group, established across the four poverty strands, looks at common features, joint working and closer alignment of project delivery and project outcomes, in line with Welsh Government's suggested direction of travel.
  2. At its meeting on 5th September, Cabinet considered a reference from this Scrutiny Committee in respect of a new Corporate Strategy for Children Who Need Care and Support and Action Plan 2016-2019. Cabinet endorsed it as a corporate policy and asked that staff should be thanked for all their hard work in developing the draft strategy.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. It is critical to the success of the Council's strategy that the overall range of services commissioned or delivered by the Council is responsive and flexible enough to meet varying levels of need and demand. This means avoiding long waiting lists or insufficient throughput within services. However, it is nearly always the case that demand for family support exceeds supply; this is becoming even more apparent with growing levels of family poverty and breakdown.
  2. In this context, the FACT team experiences high levels of referrals and the Management Board has considered strategies to address this issue. Firstly, the team undertook visits to all referring partners (including schools and head teachers meetings) to raise awareness of what constituted an appropriate referral. Alongside changes to the referral form, these meetings helped to improve the standard of referrals and enabled more appropriate allocation of FACT resources.
  3. Secondly, to ensure that referrers themselves do not stop working with families while awaiting a response to a referral, the FACT team ceased holding a waiting list but also looked at ways to broaden the service being offered. Recognising that there has been a move away from the Tier 2 referrals where FACT should be focusing to more complex cases, the Families First Management Board allocated resources initially to pilot a new Resource Panel, which started in November 2014. Where families referred to FACT were assessed as being below the team's current threshold, they would be referred to the Resource Panel. This operated until March 2015 and the Resource Panel met on several occasions. The intention was to target a small number of families, looking at what family support was required following an assessment by the designated worker and what could be offered to support the family. The process proved cumbersome and unproductive as it became obvious that referrers felt this was just another route to FACT, even though it was chaired by an independent officer and it was made very clear at all points that the referring agency should maintain oversight of the family.
  4. While use of the Resource Panel was being piloted, alternative models of delivery were explored and contributed to the final Resource Panel Evaluation. This looked at both local and national models of handling high demand for services, especially family support. The report was presented to the Families First/Flying Start Management Board in March 2015. It decided to end the Resource Panel pilot and to pilot instead a signposting service aimed at Tier 2 demand.
  5. Launched in July 2015, the Families First Advice Line sought to take initial requests for referrals to FACT. It then offered information, support and advice prior to signposting professionals and families to available services or confirming the need for an assessment (thereby reducing the need to refer to FACT).
  6. The Families First Advice Line has been growing steadily during 2015-16. 114 calls have received a response. Most enquires have been managed through telephone contact, although the Advice Line staff have the capacity to undertake home visits, which has occurred in 17 cases. 68 calls have come directly from parents/carers, reinforcing the need for help and advice to be available. A survey of those contacting and using the Service is being carried out which will assist the Management Board in evaluating its effectiveness.
  7. As indicated by the table below, the number of referrals to the FACT team during 2015-16 reduced. We are evaluating whether the Advice Line has helped to achieve this outcome, validating the decision to establish this service. Quarter 1 referrals remain constant as schools ensure that families deemed vulnerable are offered and gain support prior to the summer break.

Number of referrals











Full year total













Full year total













Full year total







  1. Discussions about the future of the Advice Line are underway, exploring links between the Family Information Service and the developing Information, Advice and Assistance (IAA) Service requirement under the Social Services and Well-being Act. These discussions are seeking to maximise the resources available by ensuring clarity of function and enhancing links.
  2. The Families First Plan is delivering ten effective projects. Numbers accessing the service show a slight increase in numbers for each of the last three years. Since the programme began in 2012/13, there has been an increase of over 270% in the number of families benefiting from Families First services and over a 500% increase in the number of children and young people benefiting.
  3. Families First has worked closely with Communities First and Flying Start to ensure families receive seamless and holistic services, not restricted by age and geography. Across these partnerships and under the banner of the Poverty Alignment Group some of the projects funded through Families First have been expanded through the secondment of Communities First staff helping to deliver the same family support models (Transitions and Putting Families First). Another Families First project, the Partnership for Young Parents, is managed by Flying Start. Recently, Flying Start and Communities First jointly funded a shared Health and Wellbeing Social Worker post. This model of working, pioneered in the Vale of Glamorgan and joining up the three main poverty-related grant programmes, is now being promoted at a national level.
  4. Building on this good work, Welsh Government have included the Supporting People fund to be more interlinked with the other poverty programmes. Initial work has started to look at how good practice and expertise across all programmes can be shared.
  5. Under the Poverty Alignment Group, all four programmes have contributed to:
  • delivering a Parenting Conference to over 90 professionals;
  • mapping and aligning parenting provision;
  • revising terms of reference to support greater alignment;
  • mapping support for teenage parents (exploring services for low birth weight babies) and NEETs;
  • working with Public Health to consider options for a more co-ordinated approach to various priorities across the four programmes that are shared with Public Health such as tackling childhood obesity (awaiting a report from Health to consider current methods of funding Dietetics), sexual health, mental and emotional health;
  • exploring the roll out and delivery of programmes including 'love food, hate waste' and links to food banks;
  • sharing information on ESF projects and delivering a joint workshop with the Youth Service to raise awareness of this;
  • organising a second shared Networking Event which launched DEWIS locally;
  • working on a report discussing how we align the four programmes further, exploring barriers and enablers;
  • participating, as one of the early adopters, in the Common Outcome Framework (COF pilot) devised by Welsh Government to closer align joint outcomes, although it has now withdrawn the idea;
  • delivering joint training on various areas including raising awareness of poverty, Nurture and other parenting training, and safeguarding;
  • taking forward a Team Around the Family ethos in Flying Start and Supporting People, looking at the principles but not replicating the FACT approach;
  • planning an awareness-raising workshop across all four programmes and members of the Poverty Alignment Group to improve knowledge, understanding and referrals and build in some common approaches to how the teams work;
  • considering a joint database;
  • pooling skills and resources regarding website development;
  • exploring how recent research reports, including 'Adverse Childhood Experiences', can be taken forward and exploring joint work on key features such as domestic abuse.
  1. By targeting the projects it funds in order to help children and young people most at risk, Families First makes a significant contribution to the developing Youth Engagement and Progression Framework (YEPF). Much of this work is delivered in conjunction with the Youth Service. The YEPF has audited youth provision and implemented mechanisms for early identification of those most at risk. Once identified, a key worker is assigned and a referral to support systems made, again seeking to reduce the need for more intensive forms of provision.
  2. As a result of effective implementation of the Youth Engagement and Progression Framework, there has been a consistent reduction in NEET (Not in Education, Employment and Training) young people in the Vale.






  Welsh Average



Year 11





Year 12





Year 13





  1. Last year, 97% of year 11 leavers entered education employment or training. 94.9% of 16-18 year olds entered education, employment or training. The reduction in NEET young people has been achieved through various initiatives, including the Inspire to Achieve project (a joint project with Careers Wales and a regional group comprising of the Vale, Monmouth, Newport and Cardiff local authorities). It successfully gained European Structural Fund (ESF) finance for April 2016. This has allowed youth workers to work in schools with high risk young people, providing various engagement sessions to cohorts or one to one support. Careers Wales will provide support for placements and career planning/goal setting. Young people will be targeted using the early identification tool.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Most family support services are provided through use of fixed-term Welsh Government grants.
  2. An indicative Families First grant of £1,534,990 was awarded to the Vale for each year covering the period up to 31st March 2017. However, in December 2015 the Council was informed of an 11.65% (£179,222) reduction for the 2016-17 period, leaving an indicative sum of £1,355,768.
  3. A Flying Start grant of £2,562,000 has been awarded for 2016/17.
  4. A Communities First grant of £580,992 has been awarded for 2016/17.
  5. The Supporting People Programme grant of £3,466,829.23 has been awarded for 2016/17.
  6. In the longer-term, it is intended that the grants will achieve cost savings for statutory agencies through reducing demand for higher tier and more specialist services.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. All grant funded projects are rigorously monitored and evaluated so that opportunities to build upon and sustain the initiatives can be identified. These services depend are dependent upon Welsh Government funding. Externally contracted projects are required to have their own exit strategies, involving reduction in scale or the cessation of individual project/s should funding diminish or end. In the longer term, it is envisaged by Welsh Government that consideration will be given to mainstreaming successful elements

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The development of grant funded services across the Vale to provide inclusive preventative and early intervention support to children, young people and families helps to meet the legislative requirements across the agencies. It is compliant with the Welsh Government's Children and Families (Wales) Measure.
  2. Contracts/service level agreements are in place with providers delivering family services which set out clear roles, responsibilities and targets for the delivery of activities.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no direct crime and disorder implications as the result of developing these services, although their preventative nature is likely to have a positive impact on children, young people and families.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. There are no equality issues as a result of the development of this service. Referrals are accepted for all children, young people and families as deemed appropriate by the Welsh Government Guidance on delivering the provision. Use of the funding differentiates between various service user groups on the basis of need, including carers and disabled children.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The work of all four programmes underpins the four main aims of the new Corporate Plan:
  • Planning, inclusive and safe (reducing poverty and social exclusion)
  • Prosperous (promoting regeneration/skills development)
  • Aspirational (raising standards of achievement)
  • Healthy (promoting healthy lifestyles and early intervention)
  1. The four programmes are working together to meet the objective to 'align relevant activities associated with Families First, Flying Start, Communities First and Supporting People programmes to maximise opportunities across all programmes'.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. These are matters for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. The Children and Young People Partnership Board agreed allocation of the available Families First grant in line with the priorities of the Vale of Glamorgan's Community Strategy and Welsh Government grant criteria. The Board comprises officers and representatives from a range of public bodies and the voluntary sector.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Healthy Living and Social Care.

Background Papers

Families First Annual Report

Contact Officer

Rachel Evans, Head of Children and Young People Services

Officers Consulted

Children and Young People Partnership Manager

FACT Manager

Operational Manager, Finance

Responsible Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services