We were commissioned by Islington Council to evaluate its Early Help Family Support Services across their Children’s Centres, Families First and Islington Families Intervention Team (IFIT) teams.
The aim of the evaluation was to consider whether:
- They are identifying the families who need additional support and engaging them successfully.
- They are getting the right service to the family at the right time or enabling them to access the right service for them.
- They are the principles and processes of early help are being adhered to.
- They are services supporting sustainable change and promoting resilience for families particularly those with multiple or complex needs.
- They are they reducing the numbers of families with escalating needs thereby reducing the need for input from statutory and specialist services.
- They are they reducing the numbers of children in care or custody and the numbers of families evicted.
The method was predominantly qualitative in nature. We carried out:
- A desk-review of key documentation (including service specifications, evaluation reports, service delivery information).
- A review of demographic and outcome data.
- Interviews with strategic stakeholders.
- Interviews with the service managers, team managers, and deputy team managers, Children’s Centre Managers and Family Support and Outreach Area Managers across and within all three services.
- Interviews with specialist post holders who support the teams: including adult mental health and employment advisors.
- Five service specific focus groups involving 31 Family Support Workers from across the three services.
- A systematic case file review of 32 families against a pre-defined framework.
- Interviews with 18 families and the worker who supported them (drawn from the case file review sample).
- Three focus groups involving 16 families from the three services.
Work was completed on time (March 2015) and within budget and the evaluation deepened their understanding on where and how the strategy is making a difference and informed the development of the next phase of the Early Help Strategy.
We were particularly impressed with the range of skills and experience across the team and the way they liaised with family members and professionals. Also, the regular communication and management of the process. The team were very flexible and the report was well written in plain English which we will be using to inform our service development and practice.
Ruth Beecher, Service Manager, Early Help for Families, Islington Council