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18.07.12

Historical problems ‘entrenched’ in troubled families

Troubled families’ problems are based on generations of abuse, welfare dependency and juvenile delinquency, a new report suggests.

Head of troubled families policy, Louise Casey, was charged by government to compile a report investigating the issues these families have faced. She interviewed 16 families in detail and has decided that the best approach is to have a single dedicated social worker helping the families on behalf of multiple agencies.

The Coalition has stated that 120,000 troubled families are costing taxpayers £9bn each year. The Government has provided £448m to turn these families’ lives around by 2015, with up to £4,000 available per eligible family to reduce truancy, cut youth crime and encourage people into work.

Casey found that problems were often repeated through generations, often with long histories of sexual abuse, antisocial behaviour and very low aspirations. Antisocial networks within communities were found to reinforce destructive behaviour of the families.

The report reads: “The prevalence of child sexual and physical abuse and sometimes child rape was striking and shocking.”

Casey said: “It became clear that in many of these families the abuse of children by in many cases parents, siblings, half-siblings and extended family and friends was a factor in their dysfunction.

“Some discussed it as if as it was almost expected and just a part of what they had experienced in life. Children often had not been protected by their parents.

“I am not making excuses for any family failing to send their kids to school or causing trouble in their community.

“However unless we really understand what it is about these families that means they behave in this way, we can’t start to turn their lives around.”

Communities secretary Eric Pickles said: “I welcome this report as an important part of that process as it provides a real insight into these families' dysfunctional lives.

“My civil servants are not just sitting in an office inWhitehalltelling local authorities what to do but seeking to gain a true understanding of the challenges they face.”

Turning a family around will be defined as: achieving over 85% attendance and fewer than three exclusions from school for children; a 60% reduction in anti-social behaviour and a 33% reduction in youth offending; and progress towards work for adults.

To view the report, visit: www.communities.gov.uk/documents/communities/pdf/2183663.pdf

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