A SCHEME to help troubled families in Darlington turn their lives around is on course to meet its target.

The government launched its Troubled Families Programme in April 2012 to help families with a range of problems improve their lives and reduce the burden on the taxpayer for the services they use.

Nationally 120,000 families were identified as being a high financial risk to the public purse due to their problems such as adult unemployment, children not attending school and family members being involved in crime and anti social behaviour.

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In Darlington 320 families fulfilled the criteria to take part in the programme and a progress report prepared for Darlington Council’s children and young people’s scrutiny committee says that of those families, 171 have made positive changes.

This represents 62 per cent of the total number of families taking part but if improvement continues at this rate then the scheme is expected to have met its target of ‘turning around’ 275 families by April next year.

The report states: “The programme has enabled the Family Intervention Team to change the way services are delivered to families and the whole family approach is embedded into service delivery.

“Bespoke packages to deal with multiple and interrelated problems, clear pathways to prevent duplication and services designed around the family, not the service, have been essential to ensure continued success.”

The council receives £4,000 per troubled family and an additional £75,000 co-ordinators grant is being paid for each of the three years of the programme.

It is due to expand next year with a broader range of family problems taken into account such as domestic violence and debt, although the main focus will remain on reducing truancy, crime and anti-social behaviour.

Nationally 53,000 families under the programme have turned their lives around.