Renfrewshire Council Early Years Initiative

Renfrewshire Council Early Years Initiative

The Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change (ROC) was commissioned in 2013 to work with two neighbourhood centres in Renfrewshire, which have a focus on family-based work, aimed at improving the life chances of both parents and children.  Each of the neighbourhood centres has a core team of workers with a flexible, family based approach to dealing with a range of difficulties commonly experienced by local families.  Each team consists of a coordinator, wellbeing worker, several generic family workers and a financial adviser. Parents and carers can be referred to the team through other agencies or by word of mouth and self referral. Workers then develop a solution based approach to deal with the families problems. Often this involves working with the family at particular crisis points and modelling appropriate behaviours and strategies.

The ROC team, led by Senior Researcher, Stuart Hall is tasked with introducing and developing self-evaluation as part of the on-going project.  Evaluative methodology is largely qualitative involving semi-structured interviews with staff, parents/carers and professional from other relevant local agencies. Through a formative mechanism the research team regularly feedback findings from the ongoing evaluation into the project development.

Interim findings

The project is due to report in March 2015, but interim findings suggest that the project has already worked with more than two hundred families and has assisted many of them to access benefit entitlements (approximately an additional £500,000) which have had a major impact on individual’s circumstances and well-being.   Moreover, it is clear that the core teams are addressing unmet need in relation to parental mental health, children’s behavioural issues, substance misuse, family isolation, housing problems and domestic abuse.