Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Social Services
Integrated Family Support Services (IFSS) is our flagship early intervention programme for families whose children are at risk of being taken into care where parental alcohol or substance misuse issues are a major contributing factor.
I am pleased to announce that today I have commenced legislation to enable the final four local authority areas in Wales, Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire and Gwynedd, working in collaboration with the Local Health Board, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, to establish the teams which allow for pan Wales coverage of IFSS. This is a significant achievement that completes a programme started in 2010 and is a full 10 months ahead of the projected date for completion of the roll out of this intervention service.
There is a weight of evidence that shows that early intervention in families with problems leads to better outcomes for those families and their children. IFSS is aimed at those families who are primarily referred due to parental alcohol and substance misuse but is also designed to help with any other problems that co-exist within those families such as domestic violence or mental health problems.
An evaluation of the three original pioneer areas, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr (as a consortium) and Wrexham has shown that IFSS in Wales works and has been successful in diverting a number of families from having their children taken into care. An interim report, covering 2011/12, indicated that 85 families had been helped in the three pioneer areas. A final evaluation report covering the period to end March 2013 is to issue in due course.
I would like to reiterate my thanks to Members for their support in establishing IFSS and to the teams who are working with families to make a difference to their and their children’s lives. I will continue to keep Members informed of future developments for this service.