The impact of recent welfare reforms and austerity measures have fallen unevenly on different regions and different household types in the UK. These changes are generally referred to as a ‘withdrawal’ or ‘retrenchment’ of the state. It is also possible, however, to argue that the state is actually extending its reach into the lives of disadvantaged or ‘troubled’ families. This article highlights how, in recent years, the site of government interventions into the lives of marginalised populations has progressively shifted from the public spaces of offices, and neighbourhood and community buildings, to the private, domestic spaces of the ‘family’. The changing spaces of street-level encounters with the state are characterised as a shift from ‘the desk’ or ‘the counter’ to the ‘front door’ of the family home. The rhetoric surrounding the Troubled Families Programme is examined and some of the political and symbolic functions of the ‘front-door’ discourse are expounded.