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National charity for children and families, 4Children, is today warning that hundreds of thousands of families are at risk of falling into crisis because they don't know where to get vital support.
Figures show that 500,000 families are ‘just coping’[i], dropping in and out of crisis with little hope of escape from the vicious circle they are caught up in.
New research released today by 4Children shows that only one-third of parents know where to find help with some of the most serious problems which are recognised as leading to family instability and crisis.
• Just 36% know where to go for help with an alcohol or drug addiction problem in the family
• Only 35% know where to turn to for help with domestic abuse
• 35% of parents know where to turn for help with a child’s behavioural issues.
• 45% know where to find help with family debt problems and
• 44% know where to find help with mental health issues for either themselves or a loved one
Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive at 4Children says:
These figures should send alarm bells ringing throughout Westminster, Whitehall and local Town Halls. Our late intervention culture, which focuses on treating the symptoms rather than the causes of family breakdown, means that families everywhere cannot find the help they need to prevent problems spiralling out of control - at huge cost to the family, society and the taxpayer."
As we approach the next phase of Government’s flagship Troubled Families programme from 2015 which will see support being extended to a further 400,000 families at ‘high risk’ of falling into crisis[ii], the charity is arguing for a radical rethink in the way in which we support families before they reach the point of crisis.
A new report, released by 4Children at the start of 2014, Making Britain Great for Children and Families, calls for an urgent modernisation of our country’s entire system of family support. The charity is calling for national and local leaders to sign up to a Family Commitment across a range of areas, including a commitment to transforming the lives of vulnerable families.
4Children is calling for:
• Early help through Children and Family Centres to deal with problems as they arise to prevent family and intergenerational crisis
• Family support for all families who are just coping, to help tackle problems head on before they take over
• Intensive family support for all families in crisis, to turnaround problems
• World class foster and adoption support for children in care which focuses on outcomes; with intensive support including kinship care
Anne Longfield continues:
Some excellent work is already taking place to support vulnerable families but the bar needs to be raised higher still with far better support at hand for families who are just coping.
“Families need a joined up service which is accessible and welcoming to all, with more intensive support for those in crisis. Many Children’s Centres already provide much of the wider support needed across a range of issues such as domestic abuse, health support and advice and guidance on managing debt and personal finance. That’s why we are recommending that they become Children and Family Centres, recognised within communities as a one stop shop for the kind of joined up support they need across a range of issues as their children grow.”
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For further information or to request an interview, please contact Julie.Evans@4Children.org.uk / 020 7522 6928 or 0791 787 0641
Figures from the 4Children Children’s Centre Census 2013 show that:
• 38% of Children’s Centres offer services for children over-5 and their families
• 58.3% of Centres expected to be involved in the troubled families programme over the coming year
• 76% of Centres had between 50% and 100% of vulnerable families in their areas registered with them
• 41% of Centres ran Domestic Violence Support Groups in 2012-13
• 89% of those running Centres had families whose children were considered at risk or in need brought in or referred to them by Children’s Services
• 34% of Children’s Centres are involved with JobcentrePlus
Download the Children's Centres Census 2013 here
Download 4Children's 2014 manifesto Making Britain Great for Children and Families
Sources:  Riots Communities and Victims Panel (2012) After the Riots (PDF)
 DCLG (2013) Troubled Families Programme Receives £200m Boost