Agenda Item No. 6

The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 16th June 2014


Report of the Director of Social Services


Update on the Development of Families First Services


Purpose of the Report

1.         To update Scrutiny Committee on the way in which the Welsh Government Families First Grant has been used to deliver multi-agency, early intervention services in the Vale of Glamorgan.


That Scrutiny Committee:


1.         Notes the use made of the Families First Grant.

2.         Continues to receive annual updates on progress.

Reasons for the Recommendations

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

2.         To ensure that the Committee is able to exercise appropriate oversight of this important strand in the overall strategy for delivering effective children and family services, including the financial and legal responsibilities undertaken by the Council as grant recipient body on behalf of the Children and Young People Partnership.    


2.         In April 2012, the Welsh Government replaced the Cymorth Grant with the Families First fund.  The funding criteria were revised, away from the provision of open access and universal services towards targeted services for those children and families most in need.  In the model of need and service provision which has been adopted in the Vale of Glamorgan, attached at Appendix 1, this means services at tiers 2 and 3. 

3.         The Vale of Glamorgan Council acts as the recipient body for the grant on behalf of the Children and Young People Partnership.  In response to the funding changes and the revised criteria, the Partnership established a multi-agency Project Management Board to draft the service model for Families First and to plan implementation.  Membership comprised representatives of the Cardiff & Vale University Health Board (UHB), the Vale Centre for Voluntary Services (VCVS) and the Council.

4.         During 2011-12, the transitional year from Cymorth to Families First, the Welsh Government allocated £1,27m to the Vale of Glamorgan.  An additional £250k was transferred into the Revenue Support Grant for supporting partnership working and participation by children and young people.  A Families First Plan and spreadsheet, covering the period up to 31st March 2017 and approved by Welsh Government, is set out in Appendix 2.  On this basis, the Council will receive a grant of £1,534,990 each year on behalf of the Children and Young People Partnership.

·         At the heart of the Families First programme is recognition 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 other 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.  This 'Team Around the Family' approach has been used extensively across the UK; evaluation studies have been positive.  In the Vale of Glamorgan, Families First funding is used to provide the Families Achieving Change Together (FACT) Team which uses this approach, a range of bespoke projects that support the long-term aims of the programme and some co-ordination and support capacity.;

Relevant Issues and Options

5.         The provision of integrated services at tiers 2 and 3 is aimed at reducing the numbers of families requiring higher level, more intensive and very often more costly services from all statutory agencies.  The aim is to provide holistic support to children, young people and families who do not meet the threshold for statutory services at the point of referral but who are likely to meet that threshold in the absence of early intervention.  

6.         It is critical to the success of the project that the services commissioned through Families First are responsive and flexible enough to meet varying levels of need and demand as determined by an assessment of the families.

7.         The programme currently provides funding for the following projects:  

·           FACT

·           Raising awareness of welfare rights

·           Family support programme

·           Disability Focus

·           Partnership for Young Parents (expanded to be Vale wide)

·           Putting Families First

·           Young people support programme

·           Young carers.

8.         Two new projects have been funded from April 2013:

·           the C-Card scheme - incorporated as part of an existing project and managed by Learning & Skills;

·           Family mentoring and volunteering - incorporated as part of an existing project and internally and externally provided.

9.         All the projects are described in Appendix 3, together with an update on what they have achieved to date.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

10.      Based on the Families First Plan and spreadsheet for the period up to 31st March 2017, as approved by Welsh Government, the Council will receive a grant of £1,534,990 each year on behalf of the Children and Young People Partnership.  However, Welsh Government has highlighted a potential reduction in the grant of 3% (approximately £50,000) for the financial year 2015 - 2016.

11.      It is intended that Families First services will achieve cost savings for statutory agencies through reducing demand for higher tier and more specialist services.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

12.      All Families First projects are robustly monitored and evaluated so that opportunities to build upon and sustain the initiatives can be identified.

13.      Families First services depend upon continued Welsh Government funding.  Externally contracted Families First 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 of the programme.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

14.      The development of Families First services across the Vale, to provide inclusive preventative and early intervention support to families, meets the legislative requirements placed upon statutory agencies in respect of children in need.  Families First funding is in support of the Welsh Government's Children and Families (Wales) Measure.

15.      Contracts/service level agreements are in place with providers delivering Families First services which set out clear roles, responsibilities and targets for the delivery of activities.

Crime and Disorder Implications

16.      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 in helping to divert children and young people from involvement in criminal activities.  

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

17.      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 referring agency. Use of the funding differentiates appropriately between various service user groups on the basis of need, including carers and disabled children.

Corporate/Service Objectives

18.      The funding addresses the following corporate objectives: 'to ensure children and young people are not disadvantaged by poverty' and to 'coordinate, preventative and early intervention services for families in the greatest need including Flying Start, Families First and Intensive Family Support Services'.

Policy Framework and Budget

19.      Families First is a Welsh Government funding initiative supported through the Children and Families (Wales) Measure.   

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

20.      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

21.      Social Care and Health

Background Papers

Appendix 1    Vale of Glamorgan Model of Integrated Children and Young People Services

Appendix 2   Vale of Glamorgan Family First Project Funding Allocation

Appendix 3   Vale of Glamorgan Families First Services update


Contact Officer

Mark Davies, Children and Young People Partnership Manager


Officers Consulted

Head of Children and Young People Services

Head of Paediatric Therapies/Partnership Manager - Cardiff & Vale UHB

Executive Director - Vale Centre for Voluntary Services

Senior Group Accountant

Children and Young People Partnership


Responsible Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services