Families with Complex Needs


Birmingham was one of 16 local authority areas that were selected by  government to develop new approach to working with families with complex needs as part of the national Community Based Budget (CBB) programme which emerged from the Total Place work carried out in 2009 and 2010.

Traditional approaches saw families having to navigate a range of different agencies to get support, which did not ways work in collaborative ways.  CBB Shard End bringing agencies together to find ways of working more effectively for the benefit of families.

Our approach

The project adopt a whole systems approach, focusing on early intervention and prevention for families on the verge of crisis and breakdown.  Shard End was selected as a ‘pathfinder’ area in Birmingham because of the high number of families with complex needs living there compared to the rest of the city.

A multi-agency team work alongside the families, empowering them to find the right support to address their problems, with one dedicated person acting as each family’s advocate.

Phase 1

Phase 1 of the project began in April 2011.  It took an action research approach, working with a small cohort of families to identify needs and support pathways, including any barriers to, or gaps in, provision of services.

An analysis of what their needs were using information from different key agencies. By matching “hard data” (databases) and “soft data” (professional judgment)  produced a list of priority families.

Managers and frontline staff working with children, young people and families in Shard End were introduced to the Family Common Assessment Framework (CAF) at a training event in July.

Partners will use the CAF to assess the needs of families. And this new “CAF around the family” will identify issues around the wider family needs rather than those of a single child. For more information on the Family CAF go to the Common Assessment Framework section of the Birmingham City Council website.

For more detail please see Birmingham’s initial proposal document:


Linked below is an e-briefings on the Community Budgets Families with Complex Needs pathfinder project in Shard End, Birmingham.


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