Pandemic response programmes supporting ‘hidden’ children extended to 2021

Children's Minister pledges more than £4m to extend pandemic response programmes supporting vulnerable families.

The Government has today announced a £4.4m investment in programmes aimed at reaching ‘hidden’ children, as well as the creation of a national centre to improve early education and health services.

In a speech at the Early Intervention Foundation’s National Conference, Children’s Minister Vicky Ford announced the extension of Covid-19 response programmes, as well as setting out plans to create a National Centre for Family Hubs that the government says will ‘improve families’ access to vital services across the country.’

An extra £4.2 million will go to a coalition of charities to continue the ‘See, Hear, Respond’ programme until March 2021, supporting vulnerable children who fall below the threshold for statutory support and early help, including those in need of crisis support due to the pandemic.

Since its launch in June, the partnership has reached more than 39,000 vulnerable or ‘hidden’ children whose usual support networks of friends, extended family or out-of-school activities have been impacted by national and local pandemic restrictions.

The Government says this additional funding will reach an estimated 15,000 more children and young people, as well as 11,000 parents and carers in need of extra help.

Recognising the need to improve the long-term support for vulnerable families, the Children’s Minister will also announce plans to launch the procurement process for a new National Centre for Family Hubs and Integrated Services, to support areas and councils set up new family hubs.

This builds on the Government’s manifesto commitment to champion these hubs and better serve vulnerable families with integrated health and education services. The new centre will draw on existing good practice among councils.

Children’s Minister Vicky Ford said: “This pandemic has caused unparalleled challenges for us as a country, but it has been particularly difficult for many vulnerable families who need the most support. This funding will expand the vital service provided by the ‘See, Hear, Respond’ partnership, which has already helped find and protect 39,000 children who may otherwise have remained ‘invisible’ without it.”

The Minister will also confirm a further £190,000 for the NSPCC’s helpline which provides advice to adults who have concerns about the welfare of a child.

Ford also announced an evaluation innovation fund, inviting suppliers to work alongside family hubs to design and deliver robust evaluations of their effectiveness and value for money. This will help national and local organisations understand which models work most effectively and can be replicated, as well as the best way to integrate a range of family services.

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