Step Change intended to improve outcomes for young people on the edge of care or custody and their families by introducing evidence based programmes (EBPs).
Step Change was designed to decrease risk taking behaviours including offending, increasing engagement in education, employment and training, and improve relationships between young people and their families to avoid family breakdown. Step Change also aimed to develop standardised best practice across organisations by producing a single delivery model for both EBPs.
The project focused on two EBPs: Functional Family Therapy (FFT) and multisystemic therapy (MST). FFT was delivered weekly to young people with behavioural or emotional problems, and their family. MST offered 24-hour support for families with young people at risk of out of home placement due to offending or severe behaviour problems. Alongside this, a single referral pathway was established, as well as panel meetings to manage the referral and allocation of young people from each local authority.
Despite initial indicators of success, Action for Children and its local authority partners decided to close the project after one year. This was due to challenges such as strategic buy-in, the impact of budget cuts on local authority resources and limited demand.
The DfE-funded independent evaluation published in 2017 found that:
- Most of the 15 families involved in the project felt it had been a positive intervention that had improved their quality of life through factors such as accessibility of therapy and meaningful relationships formed with therapists.
- Parents also described feeling empowerment and confidence from developing new parenting strategies and skills.