Families have less to worry about thanks to Family Works

Families use one of the most respected youth behaviour clinics – ‘Family Works’ – to control their children’s excessive drug and alcohol use

A 25-year-old woman fills out paperwork to ensure that her son sees his doctor regularly to make sure that he does not abuse alcohol or other drugs. A woman takes her 10-year-old daughter to her local doctor for the first time to see if he is suitable for the Family Works day centre where parents can get help with controlling their children’s drug and alcohol use. Her 10-year-old son was born addicted to drugs and alcohol and has struggled with a few attempts at recovery over the past three years. All the families using Family Works Youth Behaviour Clinics are, like their children, addicts.

The clinics are based on an established system of community health services and established voluntary organisation. They are part of the Youth Service Partnership model supported by Addaction, which puts in place a programme of support for young people and their families.

Youth service contracts and contracts with voluntary organisations are new, often untested models of support that offers parents and young people a variety of options for solving social problems, including family support, which reflects good practice. Family Works is the only youth clinic in the country using this form of support, which is modelled on community health services.

Clinics do provide one of the main means of substance abuse control in families. They provide therapies, including phlebotomy, acupressure and information and education on the self-harm. This includes asking parents to make small choices that give them more control over their children. Clinical advice and peer involvement are also used. It is thought that raising the family’s self-esteem makes it easier for parents to deal with problems.

Family Works is run by national and local services and voluntary organisations. It uses a sensible and results-based method to deliver family service interventions. Family Works is not about treating parents’ problems for them. It’s about helping them to bring their children up to their best potential, so that they can have healthier lives themselves.

Parents are encouraged to act as if they are in charge, by taking greater control over their children. It’s not about bad parenting or nagging – it’s just giving parents the means to gain and maintain control over their children’s behaviour.

The Family Works approach has proved to be effective in families that are addicted to drugs or alcohol and desperately need help. Clinics are typically accessed by parents themselves or by youth workers.

Families that use the clinics reduce their child’s use of alcohol and drugs and reduce their frequency of use by using prescribed drugs to moderate behaviour problems. They are more likely to get access to treatment or other help.

Family Works is an integral part of the National Youth Service Partnership, which is aimed at providing a range of services to support young people and their families to come together to come to their own conclusions and solutions. The approach has been shown to have a lasting impact on families and their children.

There is a need for more support to be given to families who use local facilities such as day centres to increase the likelihood of treatment. Few parents support their children, as well as supporting each other, at these centres. At Family Works, parents make use of peer support when family problems arise, through the use of speed dial.

Family Works is made up of charities and voluntary organisations, delivering supportive but practical services and support to young people, their families and young people at risk. This includes harm reduction, recovery, parenting support, advice on complex problems and family support.

In addition to helping families, Family Works achieves good results. Since its establishment, the clinics have been closely linked to national assessment and improvement frameworks.

The clinics receive national peer services from Legal Cuts that provides specialist services for the family justice system, and from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services which are run by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in the area.

Family Works also receives feedback from young people and parents on how they’re coping.

Take-up of the clinics has increased by 600% in the last 10 years. The client cohort is one of the highest on the network – there are more than 8,000 children and young people referred to Family Works each year.

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