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£8m scheme to tackle family breakdowns
AN £8 million scheme aimed at addressing family breakdown and behavioural problems in young children is launching in Worcestershire.
The county council has created a new Early Help Strategy which aims to beef up the services on offer to youngsters.
An in-house report admits there is “insufficient services” designed to address family breakdown and that many children’s life chances are being harmed by it.
The strategy will focus on two groups – children aged five to nine and teenagers.
Under the plan, £8.4 million of funding will be split among Worcester, Malvern, Wychavon, Wyre Forest, Redditch and Bromsgrove.
Worcester will get the biggest slice of the cash at £1.9 million, and the rest will be split based on population.
The money will be spent on boosting the range of advice available to families who need support.
It will also help identify a register of ‘troubled families’, defined as homes where no adult works, children are not in school and at least one parent is involved in crime or anti-social behaviour.
Research suggests there are about 900 families in Worcestershire who meet the criteria, but there is no reliable database to dip into.
Under the scheme, the names and addresses of all of them will be placed on a list and they will be contacted by the council to see if they need help. The report outlining the strategy states: “Some families experience difficulties which, if identified and nipped in the bud, can be prevented from escalating.
“Early help gives families the opportunity to regain control of their circumstances without more formal and costly interventions such as social care.
“If early help is not available this can, in the worst cases, result in children’s social and emotional development being irreparably impaired and lead to family breakdown.”
The money will also be used to make sure none of the 34 children’s centres across Worcestershire close down or suffer from a lack of funds.
It is also expected to result in the centres getting a wider range of services supplied by the council.