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Family life, and what can be done to support families, is a key priority for the Children’s Commissioner, who was delighted to be commissioned by the Government to undertake an Independent Review of contemporary family life.

The Family Review will seek to understand children and families’ perspectives on modern family life and will explore the interaction between family life and children’s aspirations and outcomes. Through the Family Review, the Children’s Commissioner’s office will investigate how we can improve children’s outcomes by developing the way public services understand the needs of families as a unit. This Review will also work to identify what is already done successfully in support for families, and what can be improved in current provision.

Last week, the office hosted the fourth roundtable for the Family Review with researchers from What Works Centres, think-tanks and universities. This roundtable was an important opportunity to discuss the evaluation of family support services.

During the roundtable, we discussed the evidence gaps in research around the impact and take-up of family support services. While there is a strong evidence-base for some targeted family support programs, there is less evidence around universal services and new models of integrated family services like Family Hubs. We also discussed interesting research on better understanding the barriers to take-up of family services for fathers as well as various models of co-locating family services in a range of different accessible settings such as schools and GPs.

We are very grateful for the insights and ideas that were provided in this roundtable.  Over the coming months, we will continue conversations with a range of stakeholders who work to support children and families, ahead of publishing the Family Review in the autumn.

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