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Leading academic, Professor Sarah Cowley, has stated that health and children’s services professionals must take into account each family’s ability to cope with the issues they face when assessing their needs.

Speaking at Capita Children’s Services’ Early Intervention Roadshow, which took place in London, Professor Cowley said that the process of assessing a child’s needs required more understanding of each individual family’s ability to manage the challenges they face. The announcement comes at a time when council services for children and young people are increasingly under scrutiny.

Professor Cowley said: “Families can respond very differently to major life changes. For example, a teenage mother in an affluent area could struggle more than a young mum from a deprived area. The mum from the deprived area may have more problems to deal with but a lot more local social support. If health and family care professionals are aware of how resilient a family is likely to be to the challenges that life throws at them, they will be more effective at prioritising the support they need. Those who are at more risk of being unable to cope can be given a greater level of support, so that they manage the challenge more smoothly.”

Nic Fell, product director, Capita Children’s Services, said: “By taking account of a family’s resilience or vulnerability to the issues they face, children’s services teams can ensure that the support and services on offer are weighted in favour of those families who are more likely to struggle. This approach helps professionals tackle the cycle of deprivation which is often passed down from generation to generation in the most vulnerable families.”

Sarah Cowley is professor of community practice development at Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery in King’s College, London. She is renowned for her research into the theory and practice of health visiting and has been a key contributor to many publications on the subject. She was speaking at an event attended by children’s services and health professionals from across the UK. The event showcased Capita’s eStart UNA, a tool that supports practitioners in assessing the vulnerability of children and families to the issues they face.

UNA allows health visitors or family support workers to ascertain family members’ susceptibility to issues such as drug or alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, obesity or low educational attainment so that they can intervene early in their provision of appropriate support. Through a series of standard questions and observations undertaken during routine health appointments, health professionals build up a complete picture of the family’s individual needs, even prior to the birth of a child. The information helps children’s services teams make the best use of available resources to improve outcomes for children.

To view a recording of an interview with Professor Cowley which took place during Capita’s Early Intervention Roadshow visit


Notes to the Editor:

• For more information on Professor Sarah Cowley, her research and the publications she has contributed to, visit Her most recent book is entitled Public Health Policy and Practice and was published in 2008.

Capita CS contact:

Nic Fell, Product Director, Capita Children’s Services, Franklin Court, Priory Business Park, Cardington, Bedford, MK44 3JZ. Tel: 01234 838 080, Mobile: 07795 827437

Press contact:

For further information or images to accompany the release please contact:
Catherine Lane, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John Street, London, EC1V 4PY. Tel: 07092 864 764 Mobile: 07813 978 133 Email:

Ref: CAP440

Capita Children’s Services is the leading supplier of information systems to the children’s services sector providing a range of software and services to schools and local authorities to help raise standards and reduce administration. Children’s services teams in over 120 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales currently use Capita Children’s Services’ One management information system.

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