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High Need Families

The programme aims to help parents to become more successful in their parenting behaviour, to be able to manage their feelings about themselves and their children more effectively and to be more positive and realistic in the way that they think about themselves and their children. 

The High Need Families Project has been established in collaboration with Southwark Youth Offending Service and Camden Families in Focus. It aims to develop and test a new parenting intervention called The Helping Families Programme. It is for families with a child/children in primary school who have severe and persistent conduct problems and are at risk of, or are currently excluded from mainstream primary school. 

The families in the pilot project are multi-stressed and at least one parent has one or more of the following risk factors: 

  • Harmful substance use 
  • Interpersonal conflict with their child, partner, close family and/or school 
  • Inability to maintain a tolerant, stable and regulated mood 
  • Lack of supportive family/social networks 
  • Frequent family crises and events 

Outcomes for families 

Five primary outcomes 

By participating in the Helping Families Programme we hope that it will help parents achieve the following outcomes: 

  • Reduced frequency and severity of anti-social behaviour/child conduct problems 
  • Improved child school attendance 
  • Improvement in parents’ reports of their ability to monitor, regulate and control their emotions 
  • Reduction in parents’ negative attributions/thinking about their parenting 
  • Improved parenting behaviours over the course of the intervention 

Practice modules 

The programme has core practice modules followed by five strategy modules: 

  • Building a Purposeful Partnership Relationship and Making First Contact: a way of working with families on their genuine participation in the Helping Families Programme, to ensure a shared and common purpose. Making first contact is a way of making a positive start with families, usually by telephone. 
  • Exploring and Assessing: a way of getting a very clear idea about the nature and extent of the strengths and difficulties that families face as well as understanding parents’ perspectives. 
  • Developing a Clear Understanding with Parents: a way of developing a formulation with the parent and making sure that both the parent and practitioner are very clear about what they want to get from the Helping Families Programme and why. 
  • Developing Parent Led Goals: a way of agreeing on specific objectives relating to the five Helping Families Programme risk factors. 
  • Planning Strategies and Implementation: a way of agreeing on, developing planning and implementing clear and specific strategies to help parents reach their goals. 
  • Reviewing the Goals and the Relationship: a way of actively reviewing with the parents the extent to which their goals have been achieved. 

Five strategy modules 

The strategy modules that follow form the basis by which the goals and outcomes of the Helping Families Programme are achieved. The strategy modules cover key risk domains areas identified with parents, not all of which will be relevant to each family. The areas are divided as follows: 

  • Reducing Harmful Substance Use: methods to help parents to minimise the harm that arises from their use of alcohol and street drugs. 
  • Increasing Positive Relationships and Conflict Management Skills: methods to help parents develop and maintain warm and purposeful relationship with their children, family and their school, avoiding conflict and managing it assertively without aggression and hostility.  
  • Increasing Skills to Maintain a Tolerant, Stable and Regulated Mood: methods to help parents manage their stressful feelings about themselves and their children. 
  • Increasing Positive and Supportive Family and Social Networks: methods to help parents build new relationships with friends and neighbours. 
  • Increase Adaptive Instrumental and Emotional Coping: methods to help parents to positively manage and firefight the demands, stresses and crises that arise in their lives. 
Project status: Ongoing

Contact us

Dr Crispin Day 

Project Lead 

National Academy for Parenting Research 
King's College, London 
Box 86, 16 De Crespigny Park