Focus Family - Families Affected by Domestic Violence and Abuse

As can be seen from the Domestic Violence/Abuse page of the Family Outcome Plan (below) a wide range of factors can be considered for a family to meet this criterion. The plans focus on priority areas of victims of domestic abuse, perpetrators of domestic abuse and the police calls out related to domestic abuse.

The aim of the work is twofold; to put support in that will keep families out of specialist services and to help families who are already in receipt of high level support to maintain improvements that would see them move toward more universal provision.

Some useful things to consider are:

  • Can be either a child or adult in need of support.

  • Can be a recent event or long term sustained abuse that causes or impacts on health issues, financial stability, confidence, school attendance and much more.

  • The domestic abuse may be known about through support services such as police or MARAC or may not meet thresholds for statutory support.

What difference will this approach make?

Focus Family is a way of working that aims to improve families' experience when they need additional help. A benefit of this is that it will support service reform through reduced duplication of services, reduced demand on and re-referrals to acute services. Many of the families identified as meeting Focus Family criteria have intergenerational, complex issues with agencies involved at an individual level. It is important for families to receive a holistic support package and to ensure this is the case it is expected this work will be joined up as a Team around the Family (TAF).

The Focus Family ethos is outlined in the Family Outcome Plan Guidance (185.76 kb PDF)

Research has shown that families most likely to benefit from co-ordinated support have multiple challenges such as unemployment, poor school attendance, involved with crime and poor health. The health problems may be exacerbated by the presence of domestic violence or abuse.

If you recognise your own family as meeting anyone of the criteria below, or you are working with a family who meet criteria, please read the information to help guide you through the process section for more advice.

If you would like to know more about the Focus family work please go to the About Focus Family  

If you would like more support please see the provided range of useful websites.

Theme 5: Families Affected by Domestic Violence and/or Abuse
Indicator/Family Problem Identified IssuesSignificant Progress (and/or outcome measure)Sustained Progress
A young person or adult known to local services has experienced, is currently experiencing or is at risk of experiencing domestic violence or abuse.

No repeat referral to MARAC and family member(s) report an overall reduced level of risk and satisfaction with support intervention.

Family members have been able to access and complete support for victims of domestic violence/abuse.

Cessation of self-reported Domestic Violence/Abuse incidents over 6 months and family report a satisfactory level of risk post intervention.

Over the last 6 months of the intervention
A young person or adult who is known to local services as having perpetrated an incident of domestic violence or abuse in the last 12 months.

Family report a satisfactory level of risk post intervention and perpetrator has:

  • completed perpetrator programme

  • subject to Domestic Violence Protection, Restraining and other Court orders

  • subject to successful prosecution

A Police call out, or disclosure of, at least one domestic incident in the last 12 months.

Family members have been able to access support and complete programmes for victims and perpetrators of domestic violence/abuse.

Cessation of self-reported Domestic Violence/Abuse incidents over 6 months and family report a satisfactory level of risk post intervention.

The local children's centre contacted the focus family area officer to discuss a family who they had previously referred to children's services with concerns but they did not meet the thresholds for children's services input. There was an Early Help in place with the children's centre as the lead co-coordinator. Focus family had been discussed with parents and consent given.

The family consisted of Mum, Dad, and 4 children. They lived in social housing property in south Copeland. The parents had a history of domestic abuse resulting in police call outs, mental health needs, physical health needs, drug abuse, and worklessness. The school had concerns around attendance and appearance of the children and housing had concerns about the condition of the property. There had been a recent incident in the family home that had caused the police to submit a vulnerable child report and which had caused the family to move out. At this point the family were engaging well with the children's centre provider, and Early Help.

They met the criteria for Focus family, and they signed the nomination and consent form so that further checks could be made. The process would then be to take to the next area allocations meeting to enable information sharing, allocate to a lead agency and identify services to support the family needs.

Before that meeting there was an escalation of need. The focus family area officer was contacted by the police, ambulance and adult social care to share information. This was then passed by email to all agencies known to be in contact with the family. As the lead co-coordinator the children's centre had a conversation with mum to identify immediate needs. The following week at the allocations meeting a full discussion took place to raise concerns and identify sources of help. It was discussed that the family needed to be supported to move closer to family for support and sources of financial help were identified. The benefits situation was discussed and an appointment arranged for focus family employment advisor to meet with mum.

The following day there was a child in need meeting which the focus family area officer attended to support the process of sharing information. Information from the allocations meeting was shared with the children's social worker, the social landlord, education, health, and both current and future children's centre providers, to put in place a plan of support for this family.

The outcomes for the family as a direct result of focus family way of working:

Information was shared between agencies in a timely relevant manner.

Mum received benefits advice face to face in a friendly environment.

The family were supported to relocate to a suitable property near to family and the housing provider covered the house clearance costs.

Mum has accessed financial support to provide some furniture and essential white goods for new home.

The children's centres in both areas arranged a smooth hand over for support, and services have been discussed to start when mum has settled into new home.

Information is still being shared as appropriate to meet the family's ongoing needs.