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1. Background

1.1 Families First is a Welsh Government programme designed to improve outcomes for children, young people, and families. It places an emphasis on early help, prevention, and providing support for families. The programme promotes greater multi-agency working to ensure families can access holistic support when they need it. The intention of the programme is to offer timely assistance to help avoid problems within families escalating.

1.2 The key elements of Families First are:

  • Joint Assessment Family Framework (JAFF) which provides a comprehensive strengths-based evaluation of families’ needs.
  • The Team Around the Family (TAF) which brings together a range of professionals to work with a family to help them cope with challenges being experienced.
  • Strategically commissioned projects developed in response to identified local and communities’ needs.
  • A disability Focus.  An allocation of funding is expected to be spent on support for families affected by disability. 

1.3 Data is collected by the Local Authorities using a Welsh Government template and reported to Welsh Government on an annual basis. This data highlight covers a 5-year period and therefore includes the COVID-19 pandemic as well as post pandemic years. It should be noted some of the figures reduced in 2020/21.  During this period many services operated on a reduced level and more flexibly to enable them to cope with the changing demands brought about by COVID-19.

1.4 During COVID-19, Welsh Government published revised Families First programme guidance to help services continue to operate as far as working arrangements allowed during the pandemic. The guidance was updated several times throughout the course of the pandemic to ensure programmes were able to adapt to the changing public health landscape in Wales. 

1.5 Data collection for the programme was paused during 2019/20 and 2020/21 to help free up services to focus on supporting their communities’ needs during unprecedented and difficult times. Data for this period has been collected retrospectively

2. Key points

Joint Assessment Framework for Families & Team Around the Family

2.1 The number of referrals for a Joint Assessment Family Framework (JAFF) has increased year on year (apart from 2020/21 which decreased to 12,405), from 13,745 referrals across Wales in 2018/19 to the highest number of referrals on record (19,685) in 2022/23, an increase of 43%. 

2.2 Around half of JAFF referrals led to families completing a JAFF assessment each year. The number of JAFF assessments completed has also risen, from 7,645 in 2018/19 to 11,095 in 2022/23. This is the highest number of JAFF assessments on record and is an increase of 45% since 2018/19. During 2020/21 the number of JAFF assessments decreased slightly to 7,215, in line with the decrease in the number of referrals.

2.3 The number of Team Around the Family (TAF) Action Plans signed has risen every year since 2018/19, from 5,540 in 2018/19 to 9,620 in 2022/23, the highest number on record, an increase of 74% over that period.

2.4 The number of TAF Action Plans closed over the same period has risen each year apart from a small fall in 2020/21. There were 5,370 TAF Action Plans closed in in 2018/19, compared to 8,945 in 2022/23, which is the highest number of closures on record. 

2.5 The number of TAF Action Plans closed with successful outcomes has followed a similar trend, rising from 3,280 in 2018/19 to the highest number of successful closures on record at 5,560 in 2022/23. In 2022/23 around 62% of TAF Action Plans were closed with successful outcomes. This has remained relatively consistent, with between 57% and 63% of TAF Action Plans being closed with a successful outcome each year since 2014/15. 

National Performance Measures (NPMs)

2.6 The programme has a suite of National Performance Measures (NPMs) identified to help provide further evidence of the impact of the programme across Wales, particularly in respect of the strategic projects. Local authorities are only required to report on those NPMs that are relevant to the delivery of the programme in their area.

2.7 The Welsh Government has provided definitions of the NPMs and some examples for evidence to mark individuals as successful against them.  These examples are not exhaustive and therefore measures of success against the NPMS are subjective to each local authority and not all local authorities report against all NPMs, and individuals may be reported against more than one NPM. 

2.8 Between April 2018 and March 2023, the percentage of successful participants reported against the National Performance Measures (NPM) has generally trended downwards. However, at least 50% of those reported against every NPM have been reported as being successful. 

2.9 The number of people Families First is reporting against these NPMs is the highest now than ever according to our records at just over 163,000 in 2022/23. Note individuals may be reported against more than one NPM. As such this figure may include an element of double counting, though it nevertheless effectively demonstrates the significant reach of the programme.

2.10 In 2022/23 the NPM with the highest number of successful participants  reported was improved emotional/mental wellbeing at 23,292. The NPM with the highest reported proportion of success was parents benefitting from a parenting intervention (86%).

2.11 The figure below shows the number of participants worked with and the number of successful participants for reported against each NPM in 2022/23. These are displayed from the NPM with the highest reported number of successful participants to the lowest reported number of successful participants. 

Figure 1.0– Graph of participants against Families First NPMs, 2022/23.

Figure 1.0 – Graph of participants against Families First NPMs, 2022/23
Figure 1.0 – Graph of participants against Families First NPMs, 2022/23

Data Quality Issues

2.12 The Families First monitoring data collection was paused in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and data for 2019/20 and 2020/21 were collected retrospectively. As a result, not all data items were able to be collected by all local authorities. Missing values in the accompanying tables are denoted by an [x]. Figures from these years should be interpreted with caution. 

2.13 Due to changes / issues with data collection systems, not all local authorities were able to collect information on the disability profile element of the Families First programme.

2.14 Additional data are collected on individuals accessing projects commissioned by the Families First programme. These data have not been included in this publication