It is estimated that more than 300,000 children in the UK have “No Recourse to Public Funds” (NRPF) due to their immigration status – meaning they and their families are excluded from most mainstream welfare provision. It is also estimated that Local Authorities (LAs) in London spend £53.7 million annually to ensure such families do not fall into destitution, under their statutory responsibility to safeguard children in need.
CEI recently evaluated a program operated by Hackney Local Authority – the No Recourse Early Action model – that seeks to support these families through an early intervention approach, aiming to improve outcomes for children and provide better value to local authorities.
“A strength of NOREAM is its ability to support families to navigate welfare services, providing grants in a flexible, person-centred way. Overall, parents who participated in our interviews expressed a high level of satisfaction with the program,” notes Dr Ellie Ott, Senior Advisor at CEI, who led the evaluation.
The NOREAM program
“The program first undertook outreach activities, to encourage families to interact with the support Hackney could offer. Then social workers liaised closely with families to set goals and sign-post appropriate services to help meet their needs,” explains Ellie.
“The final strand of work involved promoting change across the local government delivery context, through regular multi-agency conferences with children’s social services on suitable support pathways for NRPF cases.”
Developing a coherent, transferable and scalable model of “migrant aware practice” for children and families with NRPF was the stated intent of the program.
The pilot evaluation – undertaken by CEI in partnership with the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre, and funded by What Works for Children’s Social Care – found that NOREAM’s early help model worked in a flexible, relationship-based manner to assist families with varying needs. The program was able to be implemented in adherence to its principles and it achieved a collaborative approach across both the delivery team and the LA more widely.
Over a 12-month period, 29 families received support. Six families (21%) went on to be further supported under statutory LA provisions, and there were some instances where families had the NRPF provision lifted as a direct result of NOREAM.
“Results from administrative and survey data and the interviews we undertook show a clear unmet need from migrant families who engaged with the program, especially in housing, immigration, food security and health, care and wellbeing,” Ellie notes. “A strength of NOREAM is its ability to support families to navigate welfare services, providing grants in a flexible, person-centred way. Overall, parents who participated in our interviews expressed a high level of satisfaction with the program.”
A number of complex challenges were identified, including vulnerable families unable to be reached through fear of being reported by the very authorities that are seeking to help them, and the difficultly in determining whether families fitted into ‘early intervention’ or ‘statutory support.’
The evaluation recommends that, following further refinement of NOREAM, the program should be taken to scale and delivered across a number of suitable LAs as a waitlist RCT. To participate, LAs should have a significant number of families with NRPF and have a pre-existing network of services providing migrant-focused support.
“If the model is to be taken to scale,” says Ellie. “It will be critical to establish further learnings through an implementation, impact and process evaluation.”
CEI’s Dr Ellie Ott, Jamie Rowland and Georgina Mann worked with Dr Eva-Maria Bonin at the London School of Economics’ Care Policy and Evaluation Centre (CPEC) to deliver the pilot evaluation of NOREAM. The evaluation was funded by What Works for Children’s Social Care.