Working with Families with Multiple Needs

In the report Learning lessons from Serious Case Reviews 2009 – 2010, Ofsted noted in the Key Findings (page 5) that:

The most common issues [relating to the children’s families] were domestic violence, mental ill-health and drug or alcohol misuse.  Frequently, more than one of these characteristics were present.

As Working Together to Safeguard Children notes, these issues rarely existing in isolation.  There is often a complex interaction between two or three of the different concerns.  The term “toxic trio” is sometimes used to describe situations where the co-existence of these factors within a family home cause risk of harm to children and young people.  The RSCP now uses the updated reference of families with multiple needs.

Children and young people living within households with domestic violence, parental mental ill-health or parental substance misuse can be affected across many key areas of their development including health, education, and emotional and behavioural development.  Safeguarding children and young people living in families with multiple needs is a priority for the RSCP.

In recognition of the vulnerability of children and young people living in families with adults affected by mental ill-health, disability, substance mis-use etc., the RSCP and the Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB) have developed a Joint Working Protocol.


Multi-agency training in relation to this area is available via the RSCP Training Programme.


A wide range of resources and information is available on working with families experiencing domestic violent, mental-ill health and substance misuse on Redbridge Families Information Direct (FiND).

Young Carers

Children and young people living with parents and carers that are affected by mental health and/or substance misuse can sometimes have the role of a young carer.  In Redbridge, support is provided to young carers through Barnardos.

Young carers in Redbridge have said that there should be “no wrong doors” for young carers and their families. Young carers should be identified, assessed and their families supported regardless of which Council service is contacted in the first place.  Redbridge Children and Adult Social Services have therefore committed through a memorandum to work together locally, adopting a whole system, whole council, whole family approach to providing support for young carers and their families.  For more information view the ‘No wrong doors’ memorandum of understanding.