Parenting and family support: Best commissioning practice and tools

Think family toolkit ZIP (92.9 KB)

Published in September 2009, the Think Family Toolkit contains many examples of local practice, research findings, sources of reference and contributions from a range of government departments and local agencies relevant to commissioners of parenting services.  The Think Family toolkit contains:

  • emerging practice in implementing Think Family systems and services, with particular reference to the interface with adult services
  • information about targeted support services for parents and families and for Family Intervention Projects
  • evidence about the impact of and cost effectiveness of parenting and family support interventions
  • information about how children can be safely supported through family interventions


Parenting implementation project resource kit PDF (2.14 MB)

The Parenting Implementation Project (PIP) was initiated by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) in early 2008, and concluded in June 2009.  PIP’s central aim was to help local areas to provide effective support to parents and families. The PIP has worked with 18 local authorities over approximately twelve months to develop and implement their strategic approach to commissioning and delivering parenting and family support services.   
The PIP resource kit (booklet and DVD) is a major output from the project. It presents current practice in parenting and family support services and a wide range of techniques, ideas, templates and case studies, grouped under seven themes. 


Better outcomes for children in need PDF (241 KB)

This set of materials published in 2009 online by The Social Services Improvement Agency (SSIA) includes a range of material and tools relevant to commissioners of family support services, particularly for children in need. As well as a substantial body of research evidence about ‘what works’ for children in need and their families, there is an overview of the experiences of five ‘pioneer’ local authority areas testing out new approaches to commissioning for children in need, and a resource book of materials linked to key stages of the process of developing a commissioning strategy, including: project set up, needs analysis, what’s given and what works, resource mapping, understanding service quality and impact, producing a commissioning strategy, and implementation (including procurement and change management).

Fathers and parenting interventions: What works? website

This is a guide to commissioning father-inclusive parenting services produced by The Fatherhood Institute in 2009, including a 10-point commissioning checklist to help commissioners of parenting services improve children’s wellbeing by ensuring they develop programmes as part of an overall father-inclusive strategy.


Commissioning parenting support PDF (99.1 KB)

This short paper produced by JSC Consult Ltd in November 2009 identifies ‘indicators’ of what good looks like in relation to the following key aspects of commissioning of parenting and family support provision: governance and consistency of commissioning across a Children’s Trust; commissioning activity; and commissioning capacity and competencies.


Leadership and governance of commissioning

Governance arrangements: Commissioning parenting support PDF (507 KB)

Part of the PIP Resource Kit, this describes work in Newcastle to ensure all available parenting and family support funding was aligned to and used to deliver activities that demonstrated greatest impact on key priorities in Newcastle's Plan for Children and Young People. Governance arrangements were reviewed to demonstrate their inclusivity for a widened group of stakeholders.


The role of parenting commissioner in the PIP local authorities PDF (294 KB)

Part of the PIP Resource Kit, this provides an overview of issues to aid local discussion about the future development of the parenting commissioner role. The resource is drawn from discussions and workshops with parenting commissioners in the PIP.


Case Study: Developing a shadow strategic board for parents and carers PDF (561 KB)

Part of the PIP Resource Kit, this describes how Nottingham County Council established a shadow strategic board for parents and carers to put them at the heart of ECM arrangements.


Job description: parenting support commissioning manager PDF (233 KB)

The key roles and responsibilities of this post in Luton. Part of the PIP Resource Kit.


Needs assessment and strategic planning

Think research PDF (1.95 MB)

Research in Practice, Barnardo’s and the Cabinet Office have collaborated over the production of this helpful 2008 booklet that supports commissioners and service planners to use research evidence when building strategy; to locate relevant research evidence; to appraise and review research; and to build an outcome-focused evaluation of research evidence to combine with other analyses (of need and existing provision) in the development of strategy.


Developing a commissioning strategy for parent support services PDF (219 KB)

Part of the PIP Resource Kit, this is a tool designed to help local authorities revise and update their original Parenting Strategy and Implementation Plan. It can be used either to inform a new stand-alone Parenting Strategy or to help structure the commissioning of parenting work within a wider strategic approach.


Parental participation in the commissioning matrix PDF (105 KB)

This matrix presents some of the wide range of methods for involving mothers and fathers at various stages in the commissioning process. It is part of the PIP Resource Kit.


Case study and checklist for engaging vulnerable parents in the commissioning process PDF (655 KB)

This case study describes how a voluntary sector organisation was commissioned by London Borough of Sutton to consult with vulnerable parents about how they would like to be involved in the planning, monitoring and evaluation of services. It includes a checklist to help others seeking to engage vulnerable parents in commissioning processes. It is part of the PIP Resource Kit.


Standards for the involvement of mothers, fathers and carers, with self assessment and planning form PDF (1.11 MB)

These standards designed by Islington Council are helpful prompts for commissioners in relation to the involvement of mothers, fathers and carers in all aspects of planning, delivery and evaluation of services for children and young people. They are followed by a self assessment and planning tool for services to evidence the extent to which the Standards are in place, and to plan actions to address identified deficits. It is presented in the PIP Resource Kit.


Parenting support: Training needs assessment tool PDF (253 KB)

This assessment tool produced by Birmingham City Council is useful to commissioners looking to design the shape and content of accredited training for parenting support providers. It is presented in the PIP Resource Kit.


Shaping and managing the market

DCSF commercial group procurement information for commissioners website

This set of on-line support materials published in 2009 is designed to assist commissioners of children and young people's services to facilitate the market and procure services. It makes the case for commissioners needing to know about and understand procurement, and includes specific guidance, materials, case studies and toolkits relating to particular elements of this activity such as specification writing; e-procurement; use of framework agreements. It also includes a set of procurement standards and a glossary of procurement terms. 


NAPP Commissioning toolkit of parenting programmes website

This is a searchable database containing a comprehensive collection of parenting programmes, with evaluation data on their effectiveness, designed for commissioners to select, locate and commission the most effective programmes for parents in their area.


Key variables affecting the implementation of parenting strategies PDF (0.99 MB)

Part of the PIP Resource Kit, this case study explores the practical experiences of a number of PIP authorities and draws together some of the lessons learned as they worked to implement their strategies. 

Specification for provision of a community parenting support service PDF (1.40 MB)

This case study contains the service specification, service plan, and a flow chart showing the steps involved in tendering the service. Produced by Islington Council, and contained in the PIP Resource Kit. 

Training pathways: Training needs assessment tool PDF (830 KB)

Part of the PIP Resource Kit, this case study shows how Suffolk have developed a list of training available to people working with parents, linked to different levels of parental need. This allows practitioners and managers to match specific training with both professional development needs and team objectives. 


Improving performance, monitoring and evaluating

South West Parenting and Family Support Commissioners Network: Reviewing Parenting and Family Support Services ppt (1.82 MB)

This toolkit developed by the Commissioning Support Programme in 2010 is based around a set of slides that aim to support commissioners of parenting and family support services working in a range of settings. The toolkit should aid improvement of the way in which services from small contracts to large over-arching programmes are delivered and performance managed, with a view to gaining maximum impact and value for money.


Providers' outcomes-based performance management toolkit

This toolkit formed part of Bristol City Council's wider parenting support and commissioning strategy. It is designed to evidence the contribution of parenting programmes both to improving outcomes for children and young people, and to progressing local strategic priorities. Coming soon.


Developing an evidence-based parenting programme database PDF (135 KB)

This case study demonstrates a database commissioned by Birmingham City Council to address the lack of data about their local delivery, and the impact of parenting programmes. It is presented in the PIP Resource Kit.


Case study: Developing an outcomes-based performance management framework for parenting PDF (241 KB)

This case study showcases work undertaken by Coventry City Council to improve their monitoring and evaluation activity relevant to commissioning of parenting services with a clear reference to demonstrable outcomes for children and families. It is presented in the PIP Resource Kit.


Developing an outcomes and performance management framework for services for parents of older children - the journey of two local authorities PDF (246 KB)

This case study describes work by the London boroughs of Islington and Sutton, and is presented in the PIP Resource Kit.


Luton's experience of the Investors in Families accreditation scheme

This case study outlines Luton's experiences to encourage and accredit work with parents. Coming soon.


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