Despite significant investment in services many families still experience the same problems from one generation to another. The Supporting Leicestershire Families Programme aimed to support families so that the whole family have better lives and outcomes independent from the state. Leicestershire Together therefore committed to improving the lives of Leicestershire Families, particularly the most vulnerable, with an ambition to improve outcomes for these families whilst reducing public sector costs.
What did you do?
For the Supporting Leicestershire Families Programme extensive research was carried out to understand the full needs and aspirations of different types of families with complex needs. This included:
- Workshops with families
- Workshop with practitioners
- Ethnography with families
- Literature review on the current landscape for complex families
- Data collection and cluster analysis
- Interviews with closed families and customer journeys
Through extensive engagement twenty five common issues, from risk factors to difficulties affecting children and parents, were identified and then collected across wider range of families accessing family services. Cluster analysis was then applied to the data to identify groups of families who may experience types of needs differently and therefore may require different types of support. This identified the following four groups:
• Cluster 1: Disaffected Young People and generational issues (18%)
• Cluster 2: Disengaged Young People (9%)
• Cluster 3: Typical Families in need of early family support (41%)
• Cluster 4: Isolated Families requiring specialist support (33%)
Customer Journeys were then developed with a number of individual families from different family types. Families were asked to describe their journey from as far back as they could remember, discussing high points, low points, how they were helped to make positive changes or where there were barriers. Those interviewed told their stories in their own words, selecting the factors that they felt was important to their story rather than prescribed issues, providing a whole picture of their journey. The services accessed and events that resulted in significant services costs were also recorded. The journeys were then used to identify and describe the different stages from ‘stuck’ towards ‘independence’, the impact of and on both proactive and targeted services, and any preventers or enablers to progression. This then fed into the development of an intended ‘theory of change’ for families with complex needs and informed the data collection required to evidence the impact of the Supporting Leicestershire’s Families Programme to families and the public sector.
What did you learn (things to avoid, things to do etc)
1) It was important to have a flexible approach to understanding the issues for families with complex needs and build and reflect on the insight gained at each stage of the research.
2) A good understanding of current services in the locality, their target population, intended outcomes and evidence of current impact would also be useful in identifying gaps or duplication in services to inform the prioritization of outcomes.
3) It is important to understand the contribution of other services and less formal assets in supporting change.
4) In exploring the potential cost impacts on services through the individual customer journeys it became clear that, while families can inform the identification of key services, accurate activity data relating to costs is often difficult or inappropriate to gain from families or family support workers themselves, therefore sharing of service data at an individual level would be key to collecting objective data that can evidence financial impacts of and on services.
The evaluation design was informed by the expected changes that have potentially significant cost savings to the public sector or were of significant value to families. The monitoring of these outcomes over time can provide a tracking of the impact of the programme to each stakeholder including police, social care, health, districts and the families.
Contact (email address etc)