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Renfrewshire pioneers new approach to services for children

Thousands of families are beginning to feel the benefit of a totally new way of delivering services for children which is being pioneered by Renfrewshire Council.

The council’s Reach for a Better Future programme is designed to turn Renfrewshire into the ‘early intervention’ capital of Scotland, helping local children to live longer, healthier lives, enjoy better job prospects and stay on the right side of the law.

The programme is the fruit of a three year project to create a profile of the children and families who are most likely to need help, identify the kind of help that is going to be most effective and, crucially, provide it before problems develop.

By becoming Scotland’s capital of ‘early intervention,’ Renfrewshire Council also hopes to stem the rising tide of children who are being taken into care. The programme has its roots in a £500,000 Big Lottery grant awarded to the council in 2009.

Councillor Iain McMillan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Social Work, Health and Wellbeing Policy Board, said, “The most important factor in shaping a child’s future is the love and care that they receive from their parents, particularly in their early years.

“Reach for a Better Future is about helping parents focus on doing the best for their children by preventing problems from developing in the first place or tackling them before they can become too serious. Research shows that early intervention can help stop children getting involved in violence and crime, cut drug and alcohol misuse and reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy.

“Early intervention delivers real results. Trying to tackle problems after they have become well entrenched is less effective, costs more and most importantly, misses a window of opportunity to change a child’s future for the better. This new approach builds on the positive joint work of education, health and social work services to ensure children and their families get the right support quickly.”

Renfrewshire’s Reach for a Better Future programme currently consists of a series of interlocking programmes including Triple P, the Incredible Years and Functional Family Therapy.  Two new programmes, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care and Family Nurse Partnerships will be introduced in the next twelve months.

Over 1,000 families have already benefited from the Triple P Practical Parenting Programme. It’s designed to provide practical help that makes raising children easier. Triple P gives parents support and helps them manage their child’s behaviour. Triple P helps to prevent the problems that make family life stressful.

The Incredible Years programme aims to help parents build the key skills they need to raise children including monitoring, positive discipline and confidence.

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is targeted at young people, aged 11 to 18 years old who have behavioural problems including: committing crimes, a history of violence and drink and drug abuse. FFT uses intensive therapy and very high levels of support, delivered over three to four months, to change behaviour.

Multi-dimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC) aims to give children with complex and challenging behaviour the chance to live with foster families. The ultimate aim is to reunite them with their own families. The MTFC programme will be delivered across four local authorities with Renfrewshire taking the leading role.

The Family Nurse Partnership is aimed at first-time teenage parents and will be delivered by qualified nurses. The aim is to cut the mother’s use of alcohol and drugs, reduce smoking levels, increase the number of teenage mothers who breast feed and improve parenting skills and behaviour. The programme has been shown to increase the number of teenage mothers who return to education, training or employment and get more fathers involved in helping to care for their children.

A full case study about one parent’s experience with Triple P is available at: