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Cabinet Office Social Exclusion Taskforce

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Families at Risk Review

During 2007 to early 2008, the Social Exclusion Task Force led a cross-Whitehall review on families at risk. Families at risk is a shorthand term for families with multiple and complex problems such as worklessness, poor mental health or substance misuse. The focus of the Review included those who already have complex and ongoing problems as well as those who are at risk of developing them. The Review aimed to improve outcomes for families at risk, and in particular to reduce the impacts of parental problems on children's life chances.

The interim analysis report, Reaching Out: Think Family was published in June 2007 and provided a rigorous analysis of who we mean by families at risk. It highlighted innovative practice and assessed the effectiveness of existing services and systems. It showed that often, families are not getting the most effective support – and that when parents face difficulties in their own lives, the impact for both themselves and for their children can be severe and enduring.

The final report, Think Family: Improving the Life Chances of Families at Risk was published in January 2008. It sets out a vision for a local system that improves the life chances of families at risk and helps to break the cycle of disadvantage. It outlines the key characteristics of a system that thinks family at all levels, from governance to the frontline.

Following publication of the report, work on families at risk is now being taken forward by the Department of Children, Schools and Families: the Family Pathfinder programme was launched in May 2008 and will develop the ‘Think Family’ approach championed by the Task Force. 15 local areas will test innovative ways of supporting vulnerable families.

Families at Risk Review publications:

More information:

Think Family video

The Social Exclusion Task Force has created a video to communicate some of the key messages from the Families at Risk Review. Video clips featuring practitioners and family members illustrate the key characteristics of services that ‘Think family.’