Introducing Family Hubs

Family Hubs are centres which, as part of integrated family services ensure families with children and young people aged 0-19 receive early help to overcome a range of difficulties and build stronger relationships.

Effective early intervention can improve children’s wellbeing, educational attainment and life chances, reduce family poverty, improve mental health and lead to lower crime, unemployment and other negative outcomes which carry significant cost to the public purse. These centres enhance integrated working by enabling easier access to support, better outcomes for families, more effective service delivery and smarter use of budgets.

Essex’s ambitious and innovative implementation of the Family Hubs model is explained in this presentation, ‘A Healthy System’ by Richard Comerford, Managing Director of the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service, and Adrian Coggins, Head of Wellbeing and Public Health Commissioning 

Family Hubs aim:

  • To strengthen families by providing help with the myriad challenges parents face; especially those which will hamper children’s social, emotional and physical development and their educational progress.
  • To help prevent family breakdown by:
    • Supporting families where parenting is particularly difficult, and ensuring access to early help to address problems which might otherwise escalate.
    • Providing relationship support for couples at life’s key pressure points and when parents find it hard to resolve conflict.
  • To support separating families to reduce parental conflict and achieve workable parenting arrangements in the best interests of the children thereby preventing, where possible, the need to access the family courts.

What is distinctive about Family Hubs?

Family Hubs provide a central access point for integrated services, whether this is a building named a Family Hub, a building with another title, or a virtual access point.  It’s important that families know where to go and get help, and that staff and volunteers are trained to respond sensitively and effectively to families’ enquiries. The Family Hub model enables every region to make the most of the buildings/delivery sites they have available. Most commonly, a Family Hub is co-located with other services and signposts families to services within the same building but is equally integrated with services provided at other delivery sites (described by some as ‘spokes’ of the hub).

Watch our 2½ minute animation which explains Family Hubs

The relationships between the Family Hub, families and other delivery sites are equally important to ensure a whole family approach and, as far as possible, a seamless, integrated service. An indication that a Family Hub is working well is when a family need tell their story only once and services and people then work together to give that family the support they need.

In this short video, Lianne Santer, Intensive Family Support Worker, describes how practitioners came together to help one family’s parenting, practical and employment needs or one family transition from crisis point to stability, from desperation to hope.
Nikki, mum of two, tells how she received supportive and practical help to solve her family’s problems (video 51 seconds).

Family Hubs, and the systems they are part of are characterised by these principles:

  • An understanding of the importance of Early Help and prevention.
  • Families with children aged 0-19 (and up to 25 for SEND) have somewhere they know they can go if they need information, advice or guidance for family, relationship and other issues.
  • Superb provision for children’s early years (0-5) so their families get whatever help they need to give them the best start in life and ensure they are school-ready. Read Dr Callan’s blog about Family Hubs: Building on the Legacy of Sure Start Children’s Centres
  • Integrated health and public health priorities, such as health visiting and maternity, with social services and Troubled Families programmes.
  • A central access point to services and support, connected to all other delivery sites in the area.
  • relational culture embodied by everyone who works in the Hub.
  • whole-family approach which focuses on disadvantaged and vulnerable children.
  • Parents can access relationship support when there is conflict, to help and rebuild an existing relationship or during and after separation
  • The voluntary sector and wider community make an extensive and vital contribution.

Our Principles of the Family Hub model document provides a concise explanation of what makes a Family Hub model.