Parenting and family support: national policy and guidance

Aiming high for children: Supporting families PDF (482 KB)

A report setting out the government’s plans for supporting families, including:

  • proactive support for children and families most in need but who “may be less willing or able to articulate their needs”
  • ensuring fathers get the support they need to play a full role in their child’s development.
  • helping families to break out of a cycle of low achievement through support coupled with appropriate sanctions, such as the use of parenting contracts.


DFES parenting support guidance for local authorities in England PDF (733 KB)

This guidance sets out the case for a strategic approach in designing and delivering parenting support services and explores the concept of a continuum of support. Through this guidance, local authorities were asked to: develop a strategic and joined-up approach to the design and delivery of parenting support services, ideally through a parenting support strategy; see support for parents as a continuum, from early intervention and preventative services through to the use of enforcement measures; identify a single commissioner of parenting support services, and commission parenting programmes that are evidence-based.

View the "windscreen" model which demonstrates the continuum of services for parents and families relevant to this area of commissioning by downloading the PDF here.


Every Parent Matters PDF(463 KB)

Every Parent Matters explains how practitioners can assist parents to help their children learn, enjoy and achieve. It sets out the approach to promoting the development of services for parents and encouraging them to get involved in shaping services for themselves and their children. The document also assesses the gaps in service and how these might be filled. It aims to stimulate debate among service planners, commissioners and providers as to how parents can best be supported and engaged. (DfES 2007)


Joint guidance on development of local protocols between drug and alcohol treatment services and local safeguarding and family services PDF (1.16 MB)

Cross-government guidance on the development of local protocols between drug and alcohol treatment services and local safeguarding and family services to secure better outcomes for the children of parents with substance misuse problems. It explores the implications of ‘Think Family’ philosophy and practice for agencies working with children of parents with substance misuse problems. (DCSF, NTA, DH 2009)


Reducing re-offending: supporting families, creating better futures - A Framework for improving the local delivery of support for the families of offenders PDF (1.11 MB)

The Framework sets out how ‘Think Family’ philosophy and practice can be implemented to improve support for offenders’ children and families. A vision is set out for a coordinated, multi-agency approach to support this group and key tasks are set out for criminal justice agencies and local services to support the children and families of offenders at each stage of the criminal justice system and beyond. (Ministry of Justice)


Support for all: The families and relationships Green Paper PDF (812 KB)

Support for All was published on 20 January 2010 and is out for consultation until 21 April. Responses are invited to five consultation questions. The Green Paper affirms the Government’s commitment to supporting all parents, grandparents and carers in sustaining strong and resilient relationships, and sets out measures to support all families as they bring up their children and to help families cope with times of stress and difficulty.


The children’s plan: Building brighter futures PDF (637 KB)

The Children’s Plan sets out the Government’s wish to make England the best place in the world for children and young people to grow up. It also makes a commitment to a new kind of relationship in which the Government is in close partnership with families at every level, from making policy to delivering services. The vision set out in The Children’s Plan is of all families being confident in their ability to achieve the best for their child. To achieve this vision, The Children’s Plan acknowledges that different families will need different things at different times and in different circumstances, and that services will need to be flexible and meet the needs of all families. For some families, particularly those in greatest need of support, this will require children’s and adult services working closely together.


Think family PDF (607 KB)

Think Family is a cross-departmental programme jointly funded by DCSF, the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health, and supported by the Department of Communities and Local Government. Since April 2009 all local authorities have received increased funding to support the introduction of:

  • Think Family practice - making sure that the support provided by children’s, adults' and family services is coordinated and takes account of how individual problems affect the whole family.
  • Targeted support for parents and families - such as Family Intervention Projects and Parenting Early Intervention Programmes designed to provide evidence-based support to families experiencing problems.

The Family Pathfinders project will test and inform the development and implementation of the 'think family' approach by improving the coordination between adult and children's services to support families at risk. The project will run for three years from May 2008 and will address systems change at all levels within local areas, from frontline delivery to strategy and governance. In addition, some areas have an Extended Family Pathfinder for Young Carers which will address in more detail the support needs of families with young carers, and test preventative support.


Working together to support young carers - A model local memorandum of understanding between statutory directors for children’s services and adult social services PDF (178 KB)

This is a model local joint Memorandum of Understanding between Statutory Directors for Children’s Services and Adult Social Services. The aim is to offer a firm basis for working together and working in partnership with health and third sector partners to support young carers. (Adass, ADCS 2009)


Youth crime action plan: One year on PDF (195 KB)

The Youth Crime Action Plan is a comprehensive, cross-government analysis of what the government is going to do to tackle youth crime.  It sets out a 'triple track' approach of enforcement and punishment where behaviour is unacceptable, non-negotiable support and challenge where it is most needed, and better and earlier prevention.


21st century schools PDF (2.38 MB)

This White Paper sets out a range of plans the Government has for the development of schools. Those relating to parenting and family support are on access to extended services, including support and advice on parenting, and new Home-School Agreements to clarify parents’ responsibilities toward their child’s schooling, and especially their behaviour, including consequences such as court-imposed parenting orders if these are not fulfilled.


National initiatives in parenting and family support

Family intervention projects (FIPs) website

FIPs provide intensive support and challenge to families in the greatest difficulties. FIPs can be effective in tackling anti-social behaviour, as well as improving a range of other outcomes, such as increased attendance at school. The Government has announced further plans to expand the number of FIPs, with particular variants focused on preventing youth crime and tackling child poverty. The Families Delivery Team is providing direct support to local authorities in establishing these projects. There is more information on the DCSF website here.

An Evaluation of their Design, Set-up and Early Outcomes (2008) and A Family Intervention Project Toolkit are available.


Parenting early intervention projects (PEIPs) PDF (171 KB)

The Parenting Early Intervention Pathfinder (PEIP) aims to increase support for parents of children and young people (aged 8-13 years old) at risk of negative outcomes (particularly anti-social behaviour) and ensure they receive an earlier, more effective, co-ordinated package of support. An evaluation report of the PEIP Pathfinders is available. (DCSF 2008)

The family nurse partnership (FNP) programme website

An intensive, preventive home visiting programme for vulnerable, first time young parents that begins in early pregnancy and ends when the child reaches two. The programme goals are to improve antenatal health, child health and development and parents’ economic self-sufficiency. FNP is a licensed, structured programme, developed over 25 years in the US. It is delivered by specially trained family nurses who have mainly been drawn from health visiting and midwifery or mental health and school nursing. The Government has been running it as a pilot since March 2007, expanding to 70 pilot sites by April 2011, and beyond if the research findings are supportive.


Duty to provide information, advice and assistance: guidance for local authorities childcare act 2006 PDF (1.43 MB)

Local authorities in England have a duty to provide high quality, accurate and timely information and advice to parents on childcare and other services that they may need to support their children. This duty is normally delivered through the Families Information Services (FIS) in each local authority. (DCSF 2008)


Parent Know How (now Familiy Information Direct) website

Parent Know How is a DCSF funded programme designed to improve outcomes for children and parents by driving greater efficiency, innovation and reach in parenting information and support services. Parent Know How enables support for all those in parenting roles through telephone helplines and other communications platforms, and a Parent Know How Directory available through DirectGov, local authority websites, and Children's Centres.


Families at risk review Zip (767 KB) 

This outlines the key characteristics of a system that thinks family at all levels, from governance to the front line. (Cabinet Office 2007)


Families at risk, social exclusion taskforce PDF (577 KB)

This report presents a background on families with multiple disadvantages. (Cabinet Office)


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