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Review of integrated pathways for family support

Research review, best practice, case studies | May 2011

This research review, prepared by the Institute of Public Care, is intended to support implementation of the Families First Pioneer programme, a project aimed at improving the life chances - through early intervention and multi-agency support for the whole family - of children and young people at risk of developing more complex needs. The specific focus of this paper is provision of family-centred support for children across all levels of need and the implementation, in three local authority areas, of better-integrated care pathways based on evidence drawn from existing literature and pilot programmes.

Conceptually, the review examines assumptions, in the literature and in professional practice, about the nature of `the family`, and whether these adequately reflect the diversity of actual family life, and looks at the dual nature of family as both a means to address risk and a potential risk in itself. The review also interrogates the concept of integrated pathways: core principles, and different models. It looks at their history, the contexts in which they are commonly applied, their role in multi-professional, multi-agency working, and the evidence - where available - for their effectiveness.

Turning to practical applications, the review summarises the common characteristics of successful programmes, drawing on the experience of existing pilots, such as the Child Poverty Unit`s Local Authority Child Poverty Innovation Pilot and the `Think Family` programme, and addressing challenges such as the tension between the prescriptiveness of evidence-based `off-the-shelf` solutions and the importance of enabling local innovation, the costs and planning involved, and the prospects of reliably evaluating outcomes. The final section of the report translates these findings into workable service design principles for the three local authorities.

Two appendixes provide case study analyses of integrated support pathways in practice and an overview of specific interventions for prevention and support for which there exists a good evidence base.

For further information please contact Katy Burch at IPC


Tel: 01225 484088