What might family support services look like in the reconfigured children and family services after the Children Act? This is the question this article attempts to explore by drawing on evidence from the National Evaluation of the Children's Fund in England. The article describes common features in two case-study sites that might indicate the direction in which some school-based family support work is going. In particular, the article explores the concepts of “supportive signposting” and “professional friends”. By examining the characteristics of real family support services, the article attempts to gain insight into the way “need”, “prevention” and “support” are defined in the constrained context of practice. By looking at the way local initiatives attempt to give meaning to these concepts in practice may also provide insights into the emergent integrated approach to children's services.