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Assessing the impact of community programmes working with children and families in disadvantaged areas

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Community programmes designed to improve the functioning of disadvantaged neighbourhoods and the families living there, as well as to reduce specific problems such as child abuse and youth offending, are currently very popular with the UK government. However, whilst there is considerable knowledge about the structural causes of individual and neighbourhood disadvantage in UK society, evidence about the role that community programmes can play in addressing these inequalities is much more limited. The evidence that does exist tends either to have been imported from other parts of the world (notably the USA), or to be in the early stages of evaluation in the UK, with the initial findings sometimes proving rather unconvincing. In particular, the limitations of targeted funding, and the difficulties of establishing and maintaining the effective partnerships upon which successful programmes rely, are emerging as significant issues.

In this paper the implications of these findings for the future of children's services is considered, in the context of ever-widening inequalities in UK society and the government's plans for children's trusts, integrated children's centres, and extended schools, involving multi-agency working between health, education and social services.
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Keywords: children; community; disadvantage; neighbourhood; partnership

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-11-01

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