This week, Lucy Jessop, Family Hubs Transformation and Delivery Lead at the Department for Education, provided a briefing on the £12 million Transformation Fund at a webinar hosted by the National Centre for Family Hubs. Children and Families Minister Will Quince had announced a pilot scheme for upper-tier local authorities seeking to implement Family Hubs, in the form of a £12 million Transformation Fund.
The fund will be distributed between at least twelve local authorities, through an application process which is currently open (deadline 17th December). Local authorities can apply for up to £1 million each; up to £833k for programme expenditure and up to £167k for capital expenditure. This money ‘will not cover the costs of family hubs services themselves’, but is for transforming, upgrading or expanding infrastructure to better meet the criteria for Family Hubs.
The application guidance states that the funding is for those local authorities ‘that do not currently have family hubs’, but given Family Hubs are a model for service delivery, working with the contours of existing local services and needs, the National Centre for Family Hubs webinar clarified that the question is not ‘Do I already have a Family Hub?’ but rather ‘What is the degree of transformation towards a Family Hub model?’ Local authorities may have buildings named ‘Family Hubs’, but if they are not accessible, connected and relationship-centred then progress is still required, and applications for funding are very welcome.
This is because ‘Family hubs are a way of joining up locally and bringing existing family help services together’, meaning they are not inherently about the number or nature of services offered- important though they are- but the way they are offered. Focussed on the ‘tracks’ rather than the ‘trains‘, Family Hubs facilitate sustainable, stable and integrated delivery of local services to meet local need and achieve better outcomes.
Lucy Jessop said that the Department for Education intends to encourage local innovation rather than be prescriptive. We understand that this is so that local authorities have the flexibility to develop Family Hub models which address the challenges of the community, to deliver transformation with local relevance.
In response to a question about children’s centres in the webinar, Jessop made it clear that, whether local authorities have children’s centres, Family Hubs or centres of another name, it is the progress achieved by the funding towards a mature Family Hub model, as defined in the DfE’s Family Hub Model Framework, that matters most.
The Family Hubs Network supports the opportunity this Transformation Fund presents, to stimulate the implementation of Family Hubs and help local authorities understand both the theory and practice behind them. At least twelve local authorities will benefit from the funding, and their work will contribute to the evidence base of effective implementation from which all local authorities stand to gain.
Image credit: Foto Phanatic