Supporting Families Programme Solution

Automated integration and management of data for Supporting Families Phase 3

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Our Supporting Families Solution has been specifically designed to meet the requirements of the Supporting Families Programme Phase 3 and help identify and support vulnerable families.

We create a new, unified and profiled dataset of all individuals and families across each client’s region.

Our innovative software quickly and easily transforms the quality and breadth of data at your disposal, without the need for a costly and intrusive transformational project. It also enables individual teams to set and automatically apply discretionary criteria so they can identify families that require support.


"It's helping us identify families that could be eligible that we hadn't considered. So, it's opening up a whole new cohort of families that we may not have identified based on our previous way of working – so that's fantastic."

Fran Shaul
Supporting Families Manager
Portsmouth City Council

Identifying those families who need help and support to turn their lives around is challenging for local authorities and their partner agencies.

The most immediate problem is inaccurate, fragmented data, with incomplete or inconsistent information failing to present a clear picture. Targets could be missed and stretched resources misdirected. Critically, those families who need help the most, may not receive it.

Sentinel’s Supporting Family Data Platform is successfully enabling local authorities to overcome these issues, transforming their programmes and driving earlier, appropriate intervention.

Our software matches and integrates data from all available sources to provide up-to-date, holistic and user-friendly records of individuals and family units. The data sharing features of the platform also facilitate collaborative and proactive working.

Fully configurable, it puts you in control of setting profiling criteria and the scenarios that trigger automatic alerts – so you can deliver the interventions that families need and can benefit from.

Developed to meet the evolving requirements of the Supporting Families Programme (previously Troubled Families), our agile solution helps our clients conform to the Data Maturity Model while enabling them to look ahead and respond to future Government initiatives.

“Liverpool City Council and Sentinel Partners have developed an excellent working relationship over the past seven years. Before using the platform, Liverpool was struggling to link vast amounts of data for the Supporting Families Programme and were at risk of the programme not achieving its targets. The developments with Sentinel to improve data linkage for identifying complex families, partner work with families and tracking outcomes have seen Liverpool achieve and exceed annual targets set by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Department for Education each year.”

John Bowers
Supporting Families Programme, Family Hub, and SAFE Taskforce Data and Information Manager
Liverpool City Council

Also see our Family Hub Solution


A collaborative IT system for Local Government partnerships 

A safe and robust, cross-partner Case Collaboration and Data Sharing platform. Enabling real-time joint working without the risk of unauthorised data access  

Learn about the Family Hub


Examples of our Supporting Families data projects

Supporting Families Programme Background and Next Phase 2022-2025

The Supporting Families Programme is administered by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (or DLUHC, formerly the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)).

Click here to view the latest updates from DLUHC about the Supporting Families Programme 2022-2025.

The original Troubled Families Programme was the first national, systematic approach to driving real change in outcomes for families with multiple problems and to change the services that worked with them. Under this programme, each local authority was assigned a target number of families to identify, work with and support.

The challenge for local authorities was to identify eligible families. By its very nature, the programme’s aim to improve outcomes for families with multiple problems means that working and support provision needs encompass multiple teams and partner agencies, with data being collected and managed in a huge number of different systems and databases.


Information needs to be collected multiple data sources, matched together to form a complete view of every family member, and then rolled up into family compositions. These family compositions then need to be profiled to assess their levels of need and confirm if these needs match the requirements defined by the National Outcomes Framework of the programme. For families that do qualify for the programme, continual monitoring of their needs and progress is required to measure progress and outcomes.

Local authorities must evidence the turn-around of families they identify and support and need the ability to track their journey and show the progress they make. This evidencing needed to incorporate information from all supporting services and partners, such as social care, schools, NHS and Police records. Without this evidencing a local authority cannot receive their funding by proving their progress for Outcomes claims.

In April 2022 the next phase of the Supporting Families Programme was released, coming into effect from October 2022. In the 2021 Budget and Spending Round an additional £200 million investment was announced to expand the programme. This represents around a 40% real-terms uplift in funding for the programme by 2024-25, taking total planned investment across the next three years to £695 million.

This new phase of the programme has two key objectives:

  •  To see vulnerable families thrive, building their resilience by providing effective, whole family support to help prevent escalation into statutory services
  • To drive system change locally and nationally, working with local authorities and their partners to create joined up local services, able to identify families in need, provide the right support at the right time, and track their outcomes in the long term
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The new phase of the Supporting Families Programme includes:

  • A new outcomes framework including ten headline outcomes rather than the previous six. This will enable more detailed reporting on the problems families are facing, clarify what good looks like for these outcomes, and what levels of evidence would be expected when measuring these outcomes. This new framework will help build consistency of outcome measurement across the country and give clearer guidance to local authorities on what is expected, but also what is possible
  • An updated funding formula, now using the latest deprivation data and more recent population data. The formula now includes the 2019 Index of Multiple Deprivation which provides a better reflection of current need and supports levelling up by ensuring funding is distributed fairly
  • A new process for local authorities to apply for Earned Autonomy status has been launched. A prospectus sets out the level of maturity local authorities and their partners will need to demonstrate to move to Earned Autonomy status
  • A refreshed Early Help System guide has been published following collaboration with local authorities and other government departments. The refreshed version improves on the content and clarity of the self-assessments and works to encourage local transformation in line with the descriptors

Here at Sentinel, we have a track-record of providing effective, targeted, solutions and assisting local authorities and partner agencies succeed in delivering support services under the Supporting Families Programme. From the early Trouble Families Programme through to the current 2022-2025 Support Families Programme, we have partnered with local authorities, providing the technology and tools they need to identify and deliver support to the families that need it most.

Our Supporting Families Solution was developed specifically to meet the requirements of the Supporting Families Programme and continues to underpin the success of our clients such as Liverpool, Birmingham City Council, Devon, St Helens, London Borough Tower Hamlets and more.  

Powerful, flexible, forward-looking technology for your Supporting Families programme

The Supporting Families Data Platform ensures that the information you need is always at your fingertips. Further features include:

  • Family-overview and drill-down screens that show you the full picture
  • A chronological view of families to show how there are improving or worsening over time
  • A single point of access for improved data sharing and collaborative working
  • Flexible user control of the rules to validate and merge people’s data
  • Automatic data profiling to identify families in need and provide early help
  • Maximised Outcomes claims bringing increased income
  • Automatically prepared Government returns, evidenced by a full audit trail of events and outcomes
  • Compatible with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

Book a free data assessment today

Accelerating local authorities' progress to data maturity

Recognising the importance of data in identifying and responding to local needs, MHCLG (now DLUHC) has developed its own Data Maturity Model to guide local authorities.

Highlighting six key elements, it helps local authorities to understand where they are now and where they need to get to.

The Sentinel Platform underpins all six elements, helping local authorities make faster progress to data maturity and optimise their approach to delivering Early Help for families.

Data Maturity Diagram

Supporting Families Phase 3 News


Supporting Families Phase 3: Reaping many benefits from a single Data Integration System

August 2022 | News

Delivering more: how local authorities can enjoy multiple benefits from a single Data Integration platform.

SF copy

Supporting Families Phase 3 – are you ‘data ready’ for the transition?

July 2022 | News

Sentinel director, Graham McCusker, looks at the data management challenges posed by Phase 3 of the Supporting Families programme.


Recognition for Liverpool's bold Troubled Families approach

May 2018 | News

Sentinel client, Liverpool City Council, has been recognised by the Government for its bold response to the Troubled Families programme.

How our Supporting Families Platform will help

  • All information collated in one central place.
    It can be challenging to pull together vital information on families when you are dealing with so many different data sources. Our solution automatically collects information from any structured data source, including your own systems, standalone databases, and those of partner agencies such as the police, NHS, DWP (Department of Work & Pensions) and housing associations and collates it in one central place.
  • Automated DLUHC returns and detailed reports.
    For many local authorities producing the DLUHC Returns is a manual and time-consuming task, with a substantial risk of errors.  Our Supporting Families Solution provides an automated answer to all your DLUHC return requirements. With one click you can produce any required submissions or reports. All such outputs can be viewed on screen for initial verification, and then downloaded locally to be sent on at your convenience.
  • The information collected in the Supporting Family Platform becomes the most complete and quality-controlled data available.
    The quality and accuracy of the data you work with can vary significantly. Our solution enables you to set your own configurable rules for validating, profiling, and cleansing incoming information while also identifying poor data sources.
  • Controlled Data Matching.
    Matching data can be challenging. It is often a manual process involving many iterations of spreadsheet or database functions. With our Supporting Families Solution merging is also controlled by configurable rules within the Platform. These can be set up to automatically carry out merges where there is a confident match. Alternatively, the system can be used to identify potential merges, even where there is misspelling, mistyping or deliberate attempts to deceive. You can review the proposals and decide whether to accept or reject the merge. The Platform will remember your merging decision for future processing, so you do not need to review each time.

    In addition, the Platform will learn from local information you add. Providing information on known twins, common names, and common addresses (such as hostels and temporary B&B accommodation) can be used to assess the confidence on potential merges to help you decide.
  • Data Protection by Design approach includes full audit trails for every merge or proposed merge.
    All our solutions are built on a ‘Data Protection by Design’ approach. This means that there is a full audit trail available for every merge or proposed merge carried out within the Platform.
  • Remove risk and save time: Consistent and robust sets of decisions applied automatically to every new record.
    Because manual processes carry a risk of errors, organisations often spend a lot of time trying to check results. There are better ways to monitor and check results. After spending some valuable time with us during the implementation phase to set up, test and adjust rules (we provide a standard set to get you started), you will know what rules exist and what results to expect. With these in place you have a consistent and robust set of decisions that will be applied automatically to every new record.
  • Up-to-date and accurate lists of all families that have crossed eligibility thresholds.
    Individual records are merged to form a single holistic view for each family member and then linked together to create family units. This is done automatically each night, or every time you receive new data.

    As a result, our solution has all the key information available across the family and can compare this against the threshold criteria that you set. The results of this comparison are presented to you daily, giving your team an up-to-date list of all the families that have crossed the eligibility threshold.
  • Remove the need for manual efforts.
    Our solution removes the manual effort required to collect, analyse, and merge people and family information. Instead, it is all done automatically, based on the business rules you define.
  • Support your Family Outcome claims by seeing exactly what have been provided and the outcomes achieved.
    Often, an organisation’s merging processes are focused on trying to bring people’s data together but cannot always capture the outcomes of families for claims or understand which types of intervention / support activities are proving most successful. Our solution can collect and combine any information you want to include, for example all key events and outcomes from front line systems and data collected directly via on-line forms, to build up a full chronology of activities against a family. To support outcomes claims you can also see exactly what support a family has received and the outcomes achieved. Finally, you can report on outcomes against the various activity types to review effectiveness across your Supporting Families programme.


How the solution works

Step 1

Bringing your data together

Our Supporting Families Solution is delivered via our Sentinel Data Platform, an intelligent data software application that talks to any front-line systems and databases without affecting them or the processes they support.

Once you have chosen which information you need, data feeds are configured within the Platform to collect exactly what is required. Data can also be fed in from any external partners and agencies, such as academies, DWP, NHS and housing associations.

Collected data is subject to configurable rules that you own. These rules govern the data validation and data cleansing processes, as well as profiling testing to check quality. You can also match new records with people already on the system, using as many different fields and comparison types as you want.


Matching can also be proposed when dealing with mistyped, mispronounced, and misspelt names and our sophisticated matching techniques are able to cater for any scenario ranging from poor data quality to deliberate attempts to deceive.

Additionally, because everything in the Platform is set up using configurable rules there is no bespoke software to write. This means that testing and implementation is quick and agile – teams will be looking at the results of their first full trial data run within just two or three weeks.

Step 2

Identifying families in need

With our system in place, you will have instant access to a Supporting Families (formerly Troubled Families) solution that not only monitors your families, but also measures them against threshold criteria that you define.

You have complete freedom to determine the scenarios and events that cause a family to cross your own Supporting Families threshold, including crime, school, children, employment, domestic violence and health.


As events like a school exclusion, domestic violence conviction or health concern are collected, the Platform will notify you that the family needs to be assessed. It will also show you the full chronology of events relating to each individual family member that led to the family crossing the threshold.

Data is combined into holistic views of each person and each person is linked into family units. Other links can also be added and managed such as extended families (adults with children linked to different partners and properties) or gang membership (provided by youth offending system).

Step 3 

Assessing specific issues

As well as notifying you about families in need of assessment, our Supporting Family solution also provides the key information you require to assess issues relating to individual families.

From a screen offering a holistic view of each family and all its members, with one click you can drill down to see the chronology of events for the family, the agencies already engaged in supporting it and the key worker contact details.


A second click enables users to drill down further so they can view details of any family member and the current and historical information that is known about them. It is also possible to see if the issues are new or re-occurring and whether the family has already been a part of your Supporting Families / Troubled Families programme before.

Once you decide to accept or reject a family onto your Supporting Families programme, the solution will keep an audit trail of the decision and allow you to enter additional information to support the decision.


Step 4

Providing effective support

Collecting regular data feeds from your front-line teams and partner agencies, the Supporting Family Solution can provide a cross-agency dashboard view of each family being supported. 

This enables you to:

  • Monitor and manage the support being provided
  • Know who the lead contacts are in each team and stay connected with them
  • Review results and check how they relate to agreed action plans
  • Define and run reports based on the data contained in the system


In addition to showing results for each family, the system supports wider management by enabling users to monitor results by team and the type of activities and events being offered.

Step 5

Monitoring every outcome

Evidence you need to support your Outcome claims is automatically recorded by our Supporting Family solution, including all family support events and activities and the resulting family outcomes.

Our solution ensures that DLUHC's evidence requirements are met without creating additional work for your teams.

With less time spent gathering data, more time can be spent analysing what the information is telling you, enabling you to assess the performance of your programme and determine what’s working and what needs improving.


Supporting Families Solution and Data Security

  • All data collected by our Platform is protected by default and can be fully encrypted
  • Standard users never see, or gain access to, the central Platform. Instead, they view individually configured portal screens
  • Portal screens can be set up to issue alerts and warnings, without revealing potentially confidential source data
  • All data access history is logged by the Sentinel Portal enabling clients to track which records have been viewed, any amendments that have been made and when new records have been created
  • No data is downloaded or stored on remote devices. Instead, it is held centrally within the Data Platform
  • Like all our solutions, the Supporting Families Solution and Sentinel Platform can be easily integrated, either with existing IT networks or a secure cloud that is hosted remotely
  • We offer IL2-equivalent hosted environments for standard personal data solutions and IL3-equivalent for our more sensitive solutions. Where our solutions are hosted, to ensure that all data protection obligations are met, we use accredited partners who are part of the G-Cloud framework

Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Turnaround Scheme

In May 2022 the Moj announced £300 million to cut youth crime over the next three years and make streets safer, the biggest funding package in a generation to tackle youth offending and cut crime.

Part of this initiative is the new £60 million “Turnaround” early intervention programme which will support up to 20,000 more children in England and Wales.

  • Local authorities will be given specific cash to intervene early with teenagers displaying signs such as poor school attendance, troubles at home, and a history of substance abuse which are known to be factors which often drive young people into crime – so they can steer them away from law-breaking before an offence is even committed.
  • Through ‘Turnaround’, a new early intervention scheme backed by £60 million, local Youth Offending Teams will be given extra funding to connect children and teenagers to targeted, wraparound support to stop them going down a path of criminality.
  • This could include mentoring, extra school tuition, sports clubs, help to address any issues at school or at home, with their mental health or with substance misuse, tackling the root causes of their behaviour and helping them to get their lives back on track.”

It is estimated that the Turnaround programme will reach up to 20,000 more children over three years who would not otherwise have received support to turn away from offending.



Our Solution

Our secure, controlled, data-sharing technology is perfectly suited to supporting the Turnaround Early Intervention Programme.
Our software is flexible and easy to implement. Views can be tailored to meet the data requirements of specific teams and partner agencies.

Features and benefits include:

  • The ability to integrate data from multiple systems, consolidating information to provide a single view highlighting those at risk or in need of intervention
  • Profiling functionality to help identify and prioritise teenagers most in need of targeted wraparound support the Turnaround scheme offers.
  • No automated profiling or decision making, you control the results of profiling
  • Allows informed decisions to be made by professionals with the right expertise and qualitative case knowledge
  • Empowers organisations to be pro-active and data-driven, supporting early intervention, action and effective wraparound support service provision
  • Provides a complete chronology to the records that make up a person’s history – providing a complete view of a young person’s background and previous challenges, ensuring intervention decisions are timely and appropriate for their needs.
  • By providing a single, most accurate and most up-to-date view of young persons’ histories and current contexts, time spent by staff finding out what’s already known is massively reduced. Freeing up staff time to focus case needs and make a difference in young persons’ lives.
  • Reveals themes and trends, enabling potential issues to be identified at an early stage and tackled before they reach crisis point
  • Highlights links and associations – including family connections or shared history such as gang membership or youth offending
  • Additional security and access restrictions can be applied to sensitive personal data, providing a compliant and appropriate visibility across teams and partner agencies.


An introduction to Supporting Families

November 2022 | Blog

Supporting families is a programme administered by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC, formerly the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)). 

Read more

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