Families First Torfaen

Torfaen’s Families First programme is a prevention and protection model that is being developed to provide a whole family approach to service delivery. It is intended that by developing and implementing effective preventative and early interventions in family support the number of families developing more complex needs and requiring more intensive interventions will reduce.

There is a need to ensure that services are planned to meet the needs of families at all levels of the continuum of need. The needs of vulnerable families are not a constant, but fluctuate between different levels as a result of different familial triggers. Torfaen Local Service Board is committed to ensuring that public services deliver a range of support to meet the needs of the population at all levels. This is illustrated by the work being undertaken that focuses on families with complex needs; this fits with the ‘remedy’ level of need as set out within the Families First continuum of need diagram. This clearly concentrates on a higher level of need than Families First, though the key principles are maintained.

Projects and services are being developed around a whole family approach and there is improved collaboration across public services. The development of a Team Around the Family approach will facilitate improved integrated working.

Understanding Local Need

Torfaen is aware of the needs of the local population. Needs assessments have been undertaken regularly and are backed up by regular consultative exercises and participatory practise. This provides a picture of local trends and also an understanding of the viewpoint of Torfaen’s residents.

The LSB has taken the decision to move away from the existing partnership structures and to bring together the 3 existing partnerships together as one. Staff within the Public Services Support Unit, along with representatives from Partner agencies, are bringing together plans for a new planning structure within this framework. This structure includes a mechanism to effectively deliver on-going needs assessment. A newly established research and informatics group has an important role to play in this function by ensuring that the outcome focussed planning groups receive timely data to inform the agreed outcome measures.

Priority issues that have been identified include:

  • The need for a cohesive early intervention service;
  • The development of an integrated family support approach;
  • The number of children looked after increasing;
  • The need to improve outcomes for young people; this is particularly true for those in their middle adolescent years as exemplified by outcomes for young people at Key Stage 4, particularly those who are at risk of not being in education, employment or training. The lack of aspiration and ambition at this stage of their lives has long term adverse impact. The targeting of young people and their families at this stage is intended to help break the cycle of inter-generational joblessness. Further detail on the needs of this cohort is included within the attached programme outline focussing on year 10 and 11 learners and their families.

Joint Assessment Family Framework (JAFF)

The Families First Model for Torfaen focuses on the ‘protection’ and ‘prevention’ stages of the continuum of need in keeping with the Families First guidance. The intention is to develop a change in the culture and approach to mainstream service delivery to that of a family focus to make the best use of services available to Torfaen’s residents in order to provide effective early intervention that stops the level of need escalating.

The Torfaen Family Strengths and Needs Assessment developed by Torfaen provides the means by which to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the whole family. The intention being to assess and plan for the needs of the individuals that make up the family, whilst ensuring there is engagement of the whole family. Focusing on the family strengths allows for these to be built upon, thereby increasing familial resilience and reducing the risk of dependency upon services or individuals.

The model uses person, or family, centred planning to ensure that the family is at the centre. Family members identify their issues and mechanisms to address them. Within our methodology, it is proposed that the JAFF commences where the needs for a family are such that involvement from more than two services will be required and that co-ordinated engagement will ensure more effective intervention and lead to outcomes for the family.

Use of this model will provide:

  • An increase in the use of informed consent is secured for a whole family approach when assessing need and planning interventions;
  • Prompt, timely and effective interventions to support families in need;
  • Joined up, complimentary agency engagement with families;
  • Systems change for more effective multi-agency working, resulting in improved collaboration;
  • More effective and efficient responses to the needs of families;
  • Improved familial capacity and resilience.

Team Around the Family (TAF)

Torfaen is seeking to ensure that where appropriate families receive a prompt assessment that jointly identifies the needs of the family. Following assessment, a plan is developed that identifies the partner(s) that will work with the family in order to improve their outcomes.

The type and level of engagement required will depend on the needs of family members. As each family will have different circumstances, it is the responsibility of public services to work collaboratively to offer bespoke interventions from a range of services to meet the identified need. Interventions should be effective; evidence based and provide value for money.

In some circumstances, a family may require input from a single agency. However, for many families, the needs are more complex and therefore a range of services may be providing support. Evidence tells us that in these circumstances, families can experience a lack of co-ordination which can lead to repetition, confusion and sometimes contradictory advice. For these reasons, Torfaen has prioritised improving collaborative working and developing mechanisms to improve the experience that families have. It is intended that this will result in a coherent approach that delivers improved outcomes for families.

The wide range of services that families access for support makes it difficult to design an effective multi agency team that can support the differing types of needs. Torfaen has therefore decided not to create a co-located multi-agency team, but instead to begin a whole systems change by creating a ‘virtual team’ supported by the web based Person Centred Planning tool. This allows for the development of a bespoke support package that is tailored to meet the needs of each family.

The virtual team plan is supported by the development of a web-based multi-agency planning tool. This tool is built up on the learning from the ‘Alternative to Statementing’ project that has been lead by Torfaen Education Department. The tool allows for relevant information be imported from various existing databases and records, including those held by partners in health, social care and education. Developing the planning tool in this manner allows us to remove any unnecessary delays in sharing information, enabling us to ensure that records are maintained and up to date. Importantly, this also allows us to minimise the risk of duplication, both for professionals and also for the family.

Last Modified: 05/12/2018
For more information contact:

Families First Torfaen

Tel: 01495 766403 / 766972

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