The language and concept of Family Hubs have evolved from policy developments which began with the widespread opening of Family Centres in the 1980s, some of which were run by local authority social services departments and others by voluntary sector organisations. The next stage saw over 500 Sure Start Local Programmes established, to focus on helping parents in disadvantaged areas in the early years of their children’s lives. These were then converted into Children’s Centres as the programme expanded. Eventually by 2010 the Government achieved its ambitious goal of opening over 3500 Children’s Centres.
Since 2007 there have been growing calls for their remit to be broadened beyond the early years and for these and other centres to work preventively with whole families and throughout childhood. The term Family Hubs was coined to include Children’s Centres and other community-based premises and programmes which work holistically and in an integrated way with other local services and support. Family Hubs are also referred to as Early Help front doors. This highlights the important role they play in preventing families’ difficulties becoming entrenched and possibly escalating to the point where they require the involvement of statutory social services.
In 2019 the Government committed to champion Family Hubs, so we are now at the early stages of this developing policy. A more detailed policy timeline can be found here.