Older children miss out on early intervention, says Catch22

The government’s vision for supporting families through early interventions is short-sighted as it only focuses on the youngest children, a charity has claimed.

Young people’s charity Catch22 is calling on local authorities to take the lead and protect a portion of the early intervention grant for use in supporting teens and their families.

A report by the charity, Right Time, Right Support, looks into ways of providing “smarter” support for families to keep young people out of care and out of trouble.

The report found that providing “whole family” support, such as Catch22’s work in family intervention projects (FIPs), gets results.

A government evaluation of FIPs showed a 47 per cent reduction in the number of families experiencing risks associated with poor family functioning and a 47 per cent reduction in the number of families involved in antisocial behaviour and crime.

But many family projects like FIPs and intensive intervention projects (IIPs) have been closed down due to local funding decisions.

Catch22 chief executive Joyce Moseley said: “Nobody would disagree with the concept of early intervention but early isn’t just about age; families can face challenges at any time.

“Our work with young people in their teens shows that when their families struggle to cope they can end up in care or in trouble with the law; an outcome that not only damages the young person’s life chances but affects the whole family’s wellbeing and costs us dear in public spending.”

“The issue here is silo thinking, where young people and their parents are treated as separate entities and inter-linked issues such as mental health, debt, poor housing and relationship breakdown are dealt with in compartments.

“Our work tells us families need effective support when they ask for it and that it must involve working with parents and young people together to find solutions.

Moseley added that additional funding is not necessary as local authorities have the option to use some of their budget for early intervention to support families.

“We want them to exercise that option now,” she said. Last month CYP Now revealed that nine of the original 20 areas running IIPs, which target troubled eight to 19-year-olds, discontinued them after funding ran out in April this year.