There is no archetypal 'problem family'. We are committed to engaging with families who are excluded because they have multiple problems and the costs associated with supporting a family with multiple problems vary according to the number and type of services being used. Recent HMT analysis of published research suggests that a family suffering from five problems (depression, alcohol misuse, domestic violence, short periods of homelessness and being involved in criminality) are estimated to create costs of between £55,000 to £115,000 per year. Illustrative estimates produced by the Social Exclusion Task Force suggest that a family with parental drug problems and experience of prison, care services and unemployment may use services costing around £117,000 per year.
Early intervention is widely acknowledged as a cost effective approach to supporting families at risk of or experiencing multiple problems. Currently, the most robust assessments of the costs and benefits of early intervention have come from international research. For example, US evaluation of the Nurse Family Partnership model demonstrates that high-quality social support alongside antenatal clinical care for the most at risk families from pregnancy to the age of two has a sustained impact on a wide range of longer term outcomes. Independent evaluations show a per family cost of around US$8,000 over two and a half years which accrues downstream savings equivalent to four times the cost of the actual programme for the most at risk families.
To help build the evidence base on the costs and benefits of early intervention in the UK, the Government are developing and rigorously evaluating a programme based upon the Nurse Family Partnership in 10 areas across England. This programme will go live across 10 areas in April. Furthermore, the Social Exclusion Task Force is leading work on analysis of downstream costs associated with social exclusion and savings associated with early intervention.