The project aimed to provide vulnerable families with three types of family support: respite for the children to live away from home for short periods; friendship for the main carer, usually the birth mother; and resources to help make the family home a healthy environment for children.
Safe Families for Children originated in the United States. In 2013, a new charity piloted the programme in some local authorities in North-East of England. As part of the Innovation Programme, the charity collaborated with the Darlington Social Research Unit and sought to introduce the programme in 20 local authorities, involving 3063 volunteers supporting 1055 families.
The DfE-funded independent evaluation published in 2017 found that:
- Safe Families can divert cases away from the social care system.
- The project has been successful at scaling the innovation, and getting it embedded in 20 local authorities during a 12 month period (2015-2016).