Family hubs are now open in the 75 local authorities which received funding from Transformation Fund 2, the Department for Education has announced.
This is the first step on a journey to provide all families with children aged 0-19 (and to 25 years for children with SEND) access to help and support, when they need it.
Dr Samantha Callan OBE, Director and co-founder of the Family Hubs Network said ‘Covering over half of England’s local authorities with family hubs is a terrific achievement of the Government’s Transformation Fund and it’s essential the programme is expanded to ensure no area is left behind. The first 75 local authorities are showing what works best to support families in the early years, to build on the legacy of Sure Start, but also how to help families with emerging pressures as children grow older, which Children’s Centres were not set up for.
Parents are essential in efforts to address issues like school attendance and children’s poor mental and physical health. They are also the first line of defence to keep children safe online and on our streets and of course to ensure they grow up in safe, stable and nurturing homes, yet many parents struggle in these areas.
It has been recognised since the founding of the welfare state that lack of family support undermines the ability of health and education to transform children’s outcomes. These early steps in the development of a national network of family hubs are a vital, if long overdue, acknowledgement of this lack. Building on them is an essential policy goal which all political parties can get behind.’
The DfE’s Family Hubs and Start for Life funding has enabled 75 LAs to open Family Hubs and provide vital services for families with younger children, including infant feeding, early language and home learning environment, parent-infant relationships and perinatal mental health support and parenting support. The next step is to ensure that families with children of all ages can use Family Hubs to access advice and support, delivered by local authorities, the voluntary sector, health, education and others working together more effectively.
On a visit to a Family Hub in Halton, Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan said, ‘I’ve seen first-hand how important it is that families are able to build confidence and aren’t made to jump through hoops, explaining their situation to professionals over and over. That’s why through family hubs, along with our reforms to childcare and children’s social care, we’re making sure that the right support is available for families in the way that works best for them.’
Family Hubs have also been opened by local authorities, which have not received any additional government funding, recognising the opportunity to improve outcomes for children and families as well as increased cost effectiveness and better integrated cross-sector working.