Family support services and drug use in young people
Lead Researcher Kerry Woolfall and Dr Harry Sumnall from LJMU’s Centre for Public Health are currently evaluating the Families First project on Teesside.
The Families First multi-disciplinary project is run by Middlesbrough Council to offer support to families who are experiencing drug and/or alcohol difficulties. Particular emphasis is given to families where there is a real risk that a child may be placed into care as a result of substance misuse. The project is funded by the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, Middlesbrough Drugs Pool Budget and Middlesbrough Council. Additional 'hands on' assistance in this initiative has been provided by workers from West Middlesbrough Neighbourhood Trust and Middlesbrough Primary Care Trust.
University researchers, based in the National Collaborating Centre for Drug Prevention (NCCDP), are carrying out a two year study of the Families First initiative. Funded by the Department of Health, they are investigating the impact of the initiative on the lives of both the young people and parents receiving support, and those accessing the intensive family preservation support. The LJMU research seeks to;
- document and evaluate approaches to service delivery developed by Families First
- to address the needs of families affected by drug abuse
- to evaluate the impact of the service on families (children and parents) accessing the project against key policy drivers, such as 'Hidden Harm' (ACMD, 2003) and the 'Every Child Matters Change for Children Programme' (DfES, 2004)
- to compare the outcomes of project participation with children and parents in contact with Middlesbrough and South Tyneside Social Services
- to provide an economic assessment of the costs and benefits of the service model
- to evaluate collaborative working, to provide recommendations for future research and service design/development
- To independently evaluate the NCCDP outcome toolkit.
Quantitative and qualitative research methods are being used, including interviews, focus groups and questionnaires to determine the impact and delivery of service available to clients.
Findings will be also compared to the outcomes of a matched demographic group to establish whether Families First is making a difference to the daily lives of families up to one year after their support began.
The research will be published in November 2008, stating whether the provisions in place are making a difference and if not, what lessons can be learnt and subsequently what changes can be implemented in the future.
The NCCDP is a research partnership between the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and LJMU's Centre for Public Health. It has strong links with the National Young People and Drugs Programme Board and maintains a broad network of local, national and international experts in drug misuse theory and practice.