UNDER privileged and troubled families are to get an additional helping hand as a government scheme expands to take in more affected children.

The troubled family scheme, being co-ordinated by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, will now include under-5s, as well as school-age children, to help vulnerable younger children from struggling homes to get a better chance in life.

The project is part of a national initiative to identify families in need of support, hoping to tackle problems like crime, anti-social behaviour, poor school attendance and unemployment.

Councillor Joan Guy, cabinet member for children’s services and education, believes that the extra funding will help to improve the lives of hundreds of people throughout the borough.

She said: “This is a great opportunity to build on the results we have achieved so far and to be at the forefront of a project that is making a huge difference to the lives of individual families and their communities.

“In Redcar and Cleveland we have embraced the troubled families programme and used it to transform the way we deliver services to families.

“Our teams work with families as a whole, to resolve the many issues they face, building up trust to make step-by-step changes.

“Following its success, we are now embedding this way of working across all our early help services for families.”

As well as expanding from working with school-age children to those under five, the wider programme will also have a particular focus on improving poor health, which highlights is a particular problem in troubled families.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, ranked in the top 20 per cent of authorities for the success of its troubled families programme, has already ‘turned’ around 255 families according to official figures.

The Government will provide funding for the council to begin working with more than 189 new families, across the borough, by March next year and an additional 1,200 from 2015/16.

The troubled family scheme was launched in 2011, and was initially designed to change the repeating generational patterns of poor parenting, abuse, unemployment, poor school attendance, violence, drug use, anti-social behaviour and crime in the 120,000 most troubled families in the UK.