Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel D’Souza recently released her inaugural report; The Big Ask: The Big Answer, where over half a million children were surveyed in an attempt to gauge the national mood. There was a welcome emphasis on family – vocalised by the children themselves – and even more importantly there was a clear endorsement of the Family Hubs model in the report.
In an accompanying Family Hubs policy paper, the Children’s Commissioner expanded upon the benefits of Family Hubs and suggested practical next steps for both government and local authorities. These included an increase in the Family Hubs Transformation Fund and a synthesis of Supporting Families teams with the Family Hubs model.
The paper emphasised how Family Hubs link the public and voluntary sectors, observing that there are “thousands of children’s centres, primary schools and other community assets which could be developed into Family Hubs”. Involving a network of community assets should also widen the range of organisations eligible for a Family Hubs fund, with the aim of simplifying and integrating existing services for families.
Family Hubs are, according to the paper, categorically not “an additional, or parallel, form of services” but a sustainable, exciting solution if properly delivered. However, their success depends upon buy-in from the whole community – including multiple parts of the public sector- and active outreach to struggling families. These two strategies go hand in hand, but the second is particularly important for Family Hubs to have tangible impact where it matters most.
It is positive to see a growing recognition of the Family Hubs model, and our goal is to see local and national government work with the paper’s advice to implement lasting change.
Image credit: Bermix Studio