Think Family

Think Family

Think Family is the approach used by the Troubled Families programme to encourage services to deal with families as a whole, rather than responding to each problem, or person, separately.

The Troubled Families programme was launched in 2011 to help families who struggle with factors such as debt, homelessness, mental health issues, domestic violence, poor parenting, illness or substance misuse.

What are we doing?

We have been asked to work with 4,200 families over the five year programme. Those families have been identified through meeting two of the following six issues:

  1. Parents and children involved in crime or anti-social behaviour
  2. Children not attending school regularly
  3. Children who need help
  4. Adult out of work or a risk of financial exclusion and young people at risk of worklessness.
  5. Families affected by domestic violence and abuse
  6. Parents and children with a range of health problems. 

To identify the families that meet two or more of the criteria above, we collect and compare information, thus creating a new record.  The information used to create this new record contains identifiable information and it's important to consider the privacy of the individuals whose information we have used.  

In line with the Information Commissioner’s Office recommendations we've carried out a Privacy Impact Assessment (pdf, 435KB) (opens new window)

The documents embedded within are available below.

Bristol City Council Think Family Legal Gateways (pdf, 561KB) (opens new window)

Bristol City Council Think Family Data Process Map (pdf, 391KB) (opens new window)

Bristol City Council Think Family Risk Log (pdf, 104KB) (opens new window)

The expanded, five-year programme includes working with children under five as well as those of school age, and has a particular focus on improving poor health.  

Aims and approach

Our aim is to work proactively with families to find lasting solutions to their problems, rather than merely reacting to crises  such as police call-outs.

Getting people into work is a continuing priority. 

The Department for Work and Pensions provides specialist employment advisers for adults and also young people from troubled families who are at risk of becoming unemployed.

Our approach focuses on the root causes of issues and changes for the whole family while providing support tailored to their needs.

This involves working with families to agree a package of support best suited to their particular situation and building on family strengths.

Practitioners work in partnerships with families recognising and promoting resilience and helping them to build their capabilities.

We will be working closely with police, health services, job centres and schools to make positive interventions for lasting change, and transform the way that public services work with families with multiple problems to take an integrated whole family approach.

Family outcome plan

A large part of the programme is the Family Outcome Plan (FOP) (pdf, 212KB) (opens new window) . One of the purposes of the FOP is help multiple agencies deliver shared outcomes, benefiting both the agencies and the families.

The FOP was created with the help of our partners in police, health, early help and domestic violence services and was approved by the Children and Families Board.

Next steps

With the assistance of both the Multi-Agency safeguarding hubs for Bristol and Avon and Somerset we hope to:

  • Shape our ambition about working with whole families.
  • Improve the information, intelligence and analysis required when prioritising and allocating resources.

When complete, this work will bring about a new approach to managing risk and vulnerability across the city which should in turn have an effect on the numbers of families accessing crisis services.

We have a clear ambition to develop our partnership working to improve efficiency and value for money and look at ways public services are delivered. In order to identify areas of strength and areas to develop we are using a self-assessment tool to identify areas we can improve to maximise the reward.

The model and toolkit will:

  • help local areas identify what stage they are at in the transformation of their early intervention and support services for complex families
  • capture the principles that underpin meaningful system and cultural change, as well as reflecting the family’s experiences of services. The model will set the principles out in a clear and accessible way so strengths and weaknesses are easily identified
  • support local strategic leads to make a strong case for transformation across all their local partners so areas can deliver sustainable early intervention and support for complex families after the Troubled Families Programme ends in 2020
  • embed principles that can inform approaches to wider service transformation and integration work across local areas in the long term, for example, integrated approaches to tackle youth offending, domestic violence and to deliver improved adult social care provision
  • provide a framework for periodic review of progress and help areas drive continuous improvement towards their service transformation goals

Early Help Strategy

The Early Help Strategy (pdf, 2.3MB) (opens new window) covering 2019-2021 sets out the multi-agency approach to the important work of  early help across Bristol. 

Supporting families that need help as early as possible creates the best opportunity for families to tackle challenges that present themselves and reduces the need to access statutory services at a later date.

Troubled Families: service transformation maturity model

Model and toolkit (

This guide gives practical advice on service transformation.

This is our local maturity model action plan (pdf, 350KB) (opens new window) .

Think Family privacy notice

Due to the nature of the work we do and the need to share data between partner organisations, we have a privacy notice in place.

This is to ensure your data is safe and any sharing doesn’t violate the data protection act.

You can read the Think Family Privacy Notice on the Safeguarding Privacy and Processing notices page.

How your data is used in modelling (pdf, 224KB) (opens new window)

Think Family information sharing scheme

The Think Family information sharing scheme (pdf, 472KB) (opens new window)

Contact information

Head of Early Intervention & Targeted Services (Children and Families Services)

Bristol City Council

100 Temple Street

Bristol, BS1 6AG