A Family Hubs Programme to improve access to early education, health and care services for vulnerable families has been launched by the government backed with £20 million funding.
The multi-million pound investment will be used to create up to 10 more Family Hubs across the country 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.
Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said: “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.
“That is why we are championing Family Hubs, and this additional £20 million investment will drive forward this programme, helping to grow and expand hubs across the country so that even more parents and children can access the early health and education services we know can have a lifelong positive impact,” she added.
The hubs are delivered in person and supported virtually via online services and help families, children and young people to access the help they need, regardless of where in the country they live, more easily. They bring services together into one place, preventing parents and carers from having to search for different types of support that might otherwise be too hard to find, especially for those on lower incomes, helping build connections between families, professionals and voluntary services.
The government set out plans to elevate its Family Hubs programme that will support councils to set up new Family Hubs in up to 10 new areas. The government has already invested £14 million to deliver on this commitment, including the introduction of a national centre for family hubs earlier this year, led by the Anna Freud Centre to scale-up the number of Family Hubs and spread best practice on what works well to Hub providers across England.
Many councils have already started to open Family Hubs, benefitting families across the country. They often operate an ‘open door’ approach, with families able to have better access to vital services and receive support from a range of professionals, including midwives, health visitors, GPs, schools or social services.
The £20 million funded will be directed towards:
Dr Camilla Rosan, Head of Early Years and Prevention at the Anna Freud Centre, said: “We welcome this £20 million investment from the Government into the work of Family Hubs across England. This additional funding is an opportunity to expand the Family Hub offer across local areas so that more families can access high quality support as soon as they need it.
“The Anna Freud Centre is championing this work through our leadership of the newly founded National Centre for Family Hubs. 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. 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,” she added.
The House of Lords Public Services Committee recently wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay to urge a joint funding bid for the Spending Review and states that there should be a strategy for the national roll out of Family Hubs.
Barnardo's Acting Chief Executive Lynn Perry said: “It’s really important that families can access support early, before they reach crisis point. This is vital if we want to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable and reduce the number of children needing to go into care.
“Through our direct work delivering children’s centres and family hubs across the country, we know they can make a crucial difference in supporting families to address a whole range of challenges, from unemployment to poverty, to caring for a child with significant additional needs. This non-stigmatising, early help is crucial for spotting concerns when they first emerge, helping families to reduce risk, and helping children achieve a positive future. That’s why we are calling for a family hub (physical and digital) in every community,” she concluded.