Family Hubs scheme to be expanded to provide more early help for vulnerable families

Thousands of vulnerable or low-income families in England will benefit from a multi-million-pound investment to improve access to early education and health and care services, the Government has announced.

23/08/21

Family Hubs scheme to be expanded to provide more early help for vulnerable families

The Government has set out plans to expand its Family Hubs programme that will support councils to set up Family Hubs in up to 10 new areas.

Backed by £20 million of new funding, the Family Hubs offer families, children, and young people somewhere to access a range of support services, which can include early education and childcare, mental health support, meetings with health visitors or attending parenting classes, counselling or advice for victims of domestic abuse.

The hubs offer services to help families, children and young people access the help they need, regardless of where they live, delivered in person and supported virtually via online services.

The Government says the hubs bring various services together into one place, so that parents and carers do not to search for different types of support that might otherwise be too hard to find. It says this is especially for those on lower incomes, helping build connections between families, professionals, and voluntary services.

Children and Families Minister, Vicky Ford, said accessing early health and education services can have a lifelong positive impact.

“It is absolutely vital that all families across England have access to the same high quality services in their local communities, no matter where they live.

“Services like these which offer early help and intervention can make a huge difference for parents and carers, levelling up opportunities for every child to fulfil their potential.”

Many councils have already started to open Family Hubs, which often operate an ‘open door’ approach, with families able to access services and receive support from a range of professionals such as social services, health visitors, GPs, and schools.

Dr Camilla Rosan, Head of Early Years and Prevention at the Anna Freud Centre, which runs the National Centre for Family Hubs, welcomed the announcement.

“The evidence is clear that early help is what makes the most difference to the wellbeing of children and their families, and Family Hubs will sit at the heart of communities providing this support,” Dr Rosan said, adding: “We will continue to work closely with local areas to learn from and share existing expertise about what works best for families. That way, we move one step closer to providing every child with a positive start in life from the very youngest age.”

The £20 million announced will be awarded from the Treasury’s Shared Outcomes Fund and will include £10 million for the Family Hubs ‘Transformation Fund’, which supports local authorities to open family hubs in approximately 10 new areas of England. A further £10 million will go to expanding the ‘Growing Up Well’ digital project, designed to help vulnerable and disadvantaged families by improving how information is shared between professionals working with families and children in these Hubs.

The National Centre for Family Hubs will help to coordinate the efforts of the hubs and make sure councils understand how best to build a Family Hub network and to take steps at a national and local level to reduce the stigma some parents or carers experience when asking for help.

The Family Hubs-Growing Up Well project, also be expanded as part of the funding, recently sought three more local area partners.

The additional local councils, primarily based in disadvantaged areas, will be recruited as part of the project to help develop data and digital products to support the practical implementation of Family Hubs. This will involve working with the Department for Education to provide local insights to help develop digital solutions that reflect their community’s local needs.

The project aims to improve how professionals collaborate and plan for families, with a particular focus on improving how information is shared and improving access and navigation of services for families and builds on work already being carried out by both Bristol City Council and Lancashire County Council who were recruited in the first round of the project.

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