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Waltham Forest Think Family Approach

Think Family works. Research suggests that a multi-agency ‘Think Family’ approach can be effective in helping families, even for those who have not benefited from traditional service approaches. The summary of the Centre For Excellence and Outcomes research report on supporting families with complex needs is summarised as follows:


  • Multi-agency, flexible and coordinated services, with an underpinning ‘think family’ ethos, are most effective in improving outcomes. This includes staff in adults’ services being able to identify children’s needs, and staff in children’s services being able to recognise adults’ needs. Such services are viewed positively by families and professionals alike.


  • Early intervention prevents problems becoming entrenched; the practical help, advice and emotional support which many parents value can often be given without referral to specialist services. Children and young people also prefer an informal approach.


  • In order to access services, parents must feel reassured that they are not being judged or stigmatised, and be helped to overcome their fears of having their children removed. ‘I do have a sort of feeling of being ashamed of having difficulties. It’s not something I talk about’

Research has identified that families want services that are multi-disciplinary and which do not withdraw when the crisis is over but continue to prevent or reduce the circumstances that can result in further crisis. The most effective multi-disciplinary work retains a family focus, builds on the strengths of family members and provides support tailored to need.