June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned
There is little evidence to support the intensive Family Intervention Project according to a new briefing published by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.
The briefing, 'Family intervention projects: a classic case of policy-based evidence' is based on a comprehensive re-analysis of government funded evaluations on the effectiveness of the Family Intervention Project (FIP) strategy.
The FIPs became a flagship policy in New Labour's anti-social behaviour strategy. The FIP was said to apply 'assertive and non-negotiable interventions' and provide 'intensive support' for 'chaotic families', thereby eliminating anti-social behaviour (ASB) in communities and stabilising family status, reducing homelessness and improving the 'outcomes' for children.
The briefing author, Professor David Gregg, discusses the approach of the New Labour government to the academic evaluations of the FIPs and finds that:
- Successive evaluation teams offered large caveats to claims of project success that were ignored by government in media statements and other public policy announcements, and the claimed success rates for FIPs is based only on a core sample of the families that were the most compliant.
- Contrary to popular belief, the evidence suggests that rather than constituting a distinct minority distinguishable from the 'law abiding majority' FIP families tended to conform to the norms and values of the communities in which they lived but that:
- The subjects of anti-social behaviour interventions often have mental health problems, learning disabilities and neurological disorders and whether ASB interventions are appropriate for this group should be seriously questioned.
The FIP is said to apply 'assertive and non-negotiable interventions' and provide 'intensive support' for 'chaotic families', thereby eliminating anti-social behaviour (ASB) in communities and stabilising family status, reducing homelessness and improving the 'outcomes' for children.
Professor Gregg commented:
`I was struck again and again during my analysis of the research by how weak is the evidence base for the claimed success of the Family Intervention Project strategy. A balanced review of the research into the effectiveness of the Family Intervention Projects shows that the FIPs have not delivered the successes claimed for them in the last decade.'
'By targeting the wrong people for the wrong reasons while failing to tackle the real underlying causes in those targeted or delivering support in key areas like mental health the FIP remains at root enforcement-led and sanctions-oriented, where someone must be blamed and punished for bad behaviour. This ethos justifies forcing very vulnerable families with mental health problems into projects under threat of eviction, loss of benefits and removal of children into care.'
Centre director Richard Garside added:
`This briefing raises serious questions about the efficacy of Family Intervention Projects. It was not unusual for the last administration to play fast and loose with the evidence base and it is to be hoped that a thorough review will be held of the FIP strategy and more evidence-led conclusions drawn.'