Essex Family Therapy - Bridges Fund Management








Essex Family Therapy

Financing support for troubled families across Essex County

Investment Strategy

Outcomes Contracts


Healthier Lives

Date of initial investment

September 2012

Bridges Executives

Andrew Levitt

Challenge: Over half a million children are the subject of abuse in the UK each year. Where a child is no longer able to live with a birth parent, they are put into the care of the Local Authority. On any one day across the UK, 63,000 children are living with foster families. About 50% of foster placements for teenagers break down. If a child’s first placement breaks down, they are likely to enter a cycle of breakdowns which reduces a child’s opportunities to develop secure attachments. It may also exacerbate existing behavioural and emotional difficulties. In some cases, this behaviour becomes so challenging or detrimental, that a child ends up being cared for in a secure children’s home. These homes cost over £200k per year per place, following which, research shows, it is often far harder to reverse these behaviours.

Investable Solution: The Essex Family Therapy programme is a social impact bond which finances support for troubled families across Essex County, commissioned by Essex County Council. The programme is delivered by Action for Children, one of the UK’s largest children’s charities, working with over 250,000 children, young people, parents and carers and running 600 services across the UK. For this SIB, Action for Children delivers intensive support for vulnerable adolescents and their families through Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST). MST is an evidence-based programme with a 30-year international track record, which delivers family therapy focusing on improving parenting and rebuilding positive relationships so that families can manage future crisis situations, resulting in sustained, long-term impact. This SIB is managed by Social Finance UK, who worked with Essex County Council to develop the programme and is responsible for its ongoing performance management.

Outcomes: Approximately 380 families that have adolescents at risk of being taken into care will receive support from the programme. If the family can safely and positively stay together following the therapy provided, young people avoid going into care. If so, Essex County Council will provide payments to the programme for each day of care avoided, measured against a control baseline of expected outcomes for this cohort.