Turning points or turning around: Family coach work with 'troubled families'

Marian Brandon, Pernille Sorensen, June Thoburn, Susan Bailey, Sara Connolly

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The study aimed to discover how family coaches work intensively with families with moderately complex problems bringing together perceptions from 20 families, 20 coaches and six other professionals, and exploring potential savings for 50 family cases. The Family Coaching Service is part of the English government’s ‘Troubled Families’ payment by results initiative, seeking to help families ‘turn their lives around’ to save state spending on anti-social behaviour, worklessness and school absence. Results show the work to be a staged process, over six months with the coach combining practical help with relationship building to engage families, set and achieve goals and negotiate endings. Cost savings were made in 82% of cases. Family coaches find the work rewarding but emotionally demanding. Families say their coach is special and different, and describe potential turning point experiences stemming from the work with their coach. There is clear congruence in the perceptions of the service from families, coaches and other professionals. Some tensions were evident in the work with other professionals and in managing relationship boundaries with families. Relationship-based help offered by para-professionals may offer a promising model of family support that statutory social workers in particular can learn from and engage with.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-77
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Child and Family Welfare
Issue number1/2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • relationship
  • troubled families
  • family coach
  • turning points

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