Quarterly Newsletter – April 2014

Dear Colleague,

The latest edition of the Improving Futures Evaluation and Learning quarterly newsletter is available to download here.

If you have any news items you would like to submit please send them to improvingfutures@uk.ecorys.com.


Best wishes,

Improving Futures Evaluation Team

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Making a Difference for Vulnerable Families: Event Learning Booklet

This Event Learning Booklet captures the lessons learnt from the Making a Difference for Vulnerable Families: Evidence into Policy and Practice event. It includes videos of the keynote speakers and slides from the workshops.


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Families Moving Forward shortlisted for national award

Families moving Forward was recently shortlisted for the Children & Young People Now Awards with the award ceremony.

The Children & Young People Now Awards have become the gold standard for everyone working with children, young people and families. The awards recognise initiatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors that make meaningful and positive improvements to the lives of children and young people, as well as their families.

Families Moving Forward have been shortlisted under the Family Support Award category, in recognition of FMF’s work in helping 144 families with 324 young children in the Portsmouth area. With hard work and long term support, the Families Moving Forward team has made a huge difference to the lives of families, ensuring a safe and loving environment for children aged between 5 and 10 years old.

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Quarterly Newsletter – December 2014

The December issue of the Improving Futures Evaluation and Learning quarterly newsletter is available to download below.

If you have any news items you would like to submit for future newsletters, please send them to improvingfutures@uk.ecorys.com.

Please feel free to forward this email to anyone who you feel may be interested in subscribing to the newsletter and other related emails.

Click here to view the December edition of the newsletter.

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Making a Difference for Vulnerable Families: Evidence into Policy and Practice

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Home Office consultation on domestic abuse law

The Home Office has launched a consultation on strengthening the law on domestic abuse by explicitly stating that it covers coercive and controlling behaviour as well as physical harm. This consultation seeks views on whether the current law on domestic abuse needs to be strengthened to offer better protection to victims. This consultation is specifically focused on whether we should create a specific offence that captures patterns of coercive and controlling behaviour in intimate relationships, in line with the Government’s non-statutory definition of domestic abuse. The consultation closing date is 15 October 2014.

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Troubled Families programme expanded to support younger children

Eric Pickles recently announced details of an expansion to the Troubled Families programme to help younger children get a better start in life.

The Troubled Families programme will retain its current focus on reducing truancy, crime and anti-social behaviour, but will apply the approach to more families with a wider set of issues including domestic abuse, debt and where children are at risk of being taken into care.

The programme will expand from working with children of school age to include those under five years old, and will have a particular focus on improving poor health which is a particular issue for ‘troubled families’.

Read the full press release

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Working families’ earnings fall short of costs of living

A new report from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has found that working families are struggling to afford a basic standard of living.

The report, titled “Cost of a Child in 2014” is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and explores the living costs of families earning the national minimum wage. It finds that families working full-time jobs are falling short of the basic standard of living by 18%, as a result of a combination of low wages, benefit cuts and rising costs of childcare. The shortfall increases to 43% for those currently out of work, with the cost of raising a child having risen from 8% to 11% since 2012.

The annual “Cost of a Child” report, now in its third year, calls for the government to do more to protect children and families from poverty, estimating the weekly cost of raising a child – including rent, council tax and childcare costs – at £164.19 for couples and £184.50 for lone parents.

Since 2012, cuts and freezes to benefits have left many parents worse off, with child benefit covering 19.2% of the cost of raising a child, down from 20% in 2012. Since 2008, the cost of childcare has risen by 42%, representing twice the official inflation rate.

Read the report (CPAG).

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Pickles welcomes new results on troubled families

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has applauded council efforts to support almost 53,000 of England’s most troubled families over the past two years.

Speaking at the Local Government Association conference in Bournemouth, Pickles revealed the Government programme had ‘turned around’ 52,833 families since April 2012.

‘To have helped so many families so quickly is testament to the hard work and determination of troubled families teams across the country,’ he said.

The communities secretary pointed to authorities such as Wakefield, which has ‘turned around’ around 85% out of its 930 troubled families.

But he added local authorities had been helping households ‘in every corner of the country’.

In a wide ranging speech to conference delegates – which included quotes from book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Pickles said local government had ‘coped remarkably well’ in what he termed ‘this challenging time’.

Yet the communities secretary pushed town halls to do more on cost cutting, adding: ‘Councils are still spending £100bn a year. There is still a great deal of best practice to show how efficiency savings can be made and we still have only scratched the surface by embracing better procurement, cutting fraud and increasing joint working.’

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Government adviser says leadership is key to quality childcare

A government adviser on childcare has said that leadership is a more important factor than the qualifications of staff in providing quality childcare to disadvantaged two-year-olds.

recent report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) called for a minimum Level 3 child development qualification for all staff working with disadvantaged two-year-olds, and for 30% of staff to hold a relevant degree qualification.

However, James Hempsall, a government adviser on childcare and national director of Achieving Two Year Olds has stated that effective leadership and good management of settings are a more significant factor than the qualifications of staff.

Hempsall currently oversees the government’s free childcare scheme for disadvantaged two-year-olds and said that his experience of the scheme does not necessarily suggest that quality is directly linked to qualifications of staff.

Hempsall leant his support to staff aiming for at least a Level 3 qualification and backed the drive for a graduate-led sector but also noted the value of experience of working in quality settings under effective leadership.

Currently around 15% of staff working with disadvantaged two-year-olds hold a specialist childcare degree, with 78% qualified to Level 3.

Another recent report by the University of Oxford also drew a parallel between quality of service and graduate staff, this time looking at settings working with three- and four-year-olds.

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