Families Together

NEW! Project update

Families Together – new and integrated approaches to supporting and empowering families with complex needs

West Cheshire has around 525 families that have complex needs, which results in them frequently needing support from public services and other agencies and cost over £39 million across all public services annually.

The services they receive are often repetitive, fragmented and reactive resulting in high-costs across a number of organisations. There are some instances of families receiving over 200 interventions over a 12 month period from a range of organisations.

The national Troubled Families programme has highlighted the need for focused and coordinated work to take place with these families. In West Cheshire we are taking this work a step further with our Families Together approach to address the root cause of the challenges facing these families, and to break this cycle of dependency.

Family members face different and varied problems ranging from debt, drugs, alcoholism, domestic abuse or truancy, to name but a few. The combination of these issues requires an integrated approach from a range of local partners.

Altogether Better approach


New approach

Old approach

 A joint access team: To identify early the need for support and make appropriate referrals to stop small problems becoming significant.  Families at crisis point with impacts on families and communities. Cases that don’t meet acute thresholds ‘bounce around’ the system.
 A ‘team around the family’ assessment: One single view of the family and all services that they currently use / require.  Lots of assessments for different issues, with family members having to tell their story many times, and the family context not always taken into account.
 A ‘families together agreement’: A plan for the family and the individuals within it. This outlines what is expected of them and explains why their agreement, cooperation and participation is essential.  Multiple plans for family members, not accounting for the family context. Behaviour of families not engaging is unchecked resulting in no lasting change.
 A family advocate: To provide a single, trusted point of contact to provide coordination, support and challenge.  Many key workers engaged with the family with little coordination or advocacy role, and not enough influence with other services.
 A ‘menu of interventions’: Evidence based interventions that the family and advocates can access, based around the needs of the family.  Many services working with family members in isolation, sometimes with conflicting results.
 A locality case management and commissioning team: making sure that family cases are jointly managed using the ‘team around the family’ model.  Different case management arrangements across  organisations working with families, and no clear links to local delivery.
 ‘Shadow pooling’ of investment: This will enable partners to have a shared view of the flows of money and benefits across organisations in the new model. This will inform commissioning decisions.  Public services invest in isolation from each other, failing to fully track and monitor the cause and effects that investment can have on other organisations. This can result in fragmentation and high costs.
 A joint outcomes framework: Ensuring all agencies assess their success against shared objectives.  Organisations often assess success in isolation.
 A data and intelligence hub: To collect and share accurate information among all organisations.  Multiple information and data support services causing confusion of data sharing and missed opportunities to help.



Partners can improve and accelerate existing work with ‘complex families’. They will provide a coordinated response that reduces demand and create a model for sustainable working. We estimate this will release savings of £2 million net over the coming five years.

Business Case


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