Early Help Evaluation (2015 - 2020)
- Meeting of Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday, 2nd December, 2020 10.00 am (Item 51.)
Report and presentation of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services
The report and presentation provide an overview of the Early Help Evaluation and its findings.
The Committee received a report and presentation of the Strategic Director of Children and Education Services which provided an overview of the Early Help evaluation and its findings.
Officers referred to the main points and themes within the report and presentation, which included:
· Presenting needs of families that had been worked with;
· Evidence that support had led to reduced needs; and
· How investment in Early Help and a ‘whole family’ way of working could help support wider city priorities and strategies.
Some of the key points and themes that arose from the Committee’s discussions were:
· To welcome the preventative approach being taken and the impact that had been made, in particular the number of children kept out of care;
· The difficulty in demonstrating what a preventative approach had achieved;
· The financial impact of the pandemic on families and what work was being done, including to help families who could become at risk of homelessness due to rent arrears;
· The availability of parenting classes during the pandemic;
· Whether the Early Help Hubs had connections with local food banks; and
· Whether Early Help was working with housing providers.
The Strategic Head of Early Help informed Members that work was taking place at a Manchester and Greater Manchester level to prevent and alleviate homelessness. She outlined the support available to families in rent arrears or experiencing other financial difficulties, including provision of advice on benefit entitlement and on debts, as well as work on gambling harm reduction, which had become an area of increasing concern during the pandemic.
The Strategic Head of Early Help reported that there was a high demand for parenting support and this was being provided through a range of means including online parenting support, one-to-one support, interactive video guides, a telephone helpline and small socially distanced parenting classes in Sure Start centres. She reported that there were a number of food clubs which were based at Sure Start centres and that the three locality-based Early Help Hubs were well-connected with local food banks, although she would welcome the opportunity to expand those links.
The Strategic Head of Early Help advised that evaluations and feedback from families were used to demonstrate the value of investing in preventative work which would improve outcomes for families and result in savings later on. In response to a Member’s question, the Early Help Project Manager explained that police data about offences relating to a particular address in the 12 months prior to an intervention and in the following 12 months demonstrated the impact of this work in reducing offences.
The Executive Member for Children and Schools advised that the evidence presented demonstrated that it had been a good decision to continue with the early intervention work and, in response to Members’ comments, he suggested that in future it would be useful to clearly articulate the savings from this work in the evaluation.
In response to a Member’s question, the Early Help Project Manager offered to provide information on the number of families concerned, in relation to the data on areas of the city and the sustainability of impacts, as only percentages had been provided. The Chair requested that he send this to the Scrutiny Support Officer for circulation to all Members of the Committee. In response to a question from another Member, the Early Help Project Manager advised that officers would look at analysing data broken down by sex and ethnicity.
The Strategic Head of Early Help informed Members that registered housing providers were a key partner in Early Help but that stronger connections were needed with the private rented sector. She reported that she would take this issue to the next partnership board meeting.
1. To recognise the success of Early Help.
2. To ask officers to consider how Councillors could help with this work and to circulate a note to the Committee Members on this.
3. To request that the Early Help Project Manager provide information on the number of families, in relation to the presentation slides on areas of the city and the sustainability of impacts.