The Family Hubs Network is pleased to see the government evidence its continued commitment to Family Hubs, by drawing explicit attention to them in its recently published Levelling Up White Paper. Now the Chancellor has committed £82 million in the 2021 Budget, and Family Hubs are a part of the decade-long levelling up project, the Network’s task will adapt, as it holds government to account and continues to help local authorities roll out Family Hubs.
Last week the Conservative government unveiled their flagship legislation- and a key manifesto pledge- in the form of the Levelling Up White Paper. Levelling up is based on the premise that talent is equally distributed but opportunity is not, meaning a key part of levelling up is improving public services where they are poorest. Improving education is an important part of that, but the paper rightly highlights that “other factors besides time spent in the classroom also shape a child’s potential.” Without holistic, relational support outside the classroom, new generations will not receive the tools they need to flourish. When family circumstances can “hold back children from attending and achieving at school”, levelling up means addressing problems beyond the school gate.
Levelling up is also about cultivating a sense of place and empowering local communities, and Family Hubs aid in this too. One of the principles in the Department for Education’s (DfE) Family Hub Model Framework- its philosophy of Family Hubs developed with the support of the Network- is community ownership and co-production, which accords neatly with the White Paper’s aim to “restore a sense of community, local pride and belonging”. By working with the voluntary sector and avoiding the pitfalls of prescriptive budgets, Family Hubs enable local authorities to address the specific needs of the community.
At their best, Family Hubs are a part of the solution to many national and local issues, which enhances the importance of an effective national rollout, remaining faithful to the DfE’s own pillars of access, connection and relationships. Now the government has made Family Hubs a firm part of its policy agenda- a £100m+ commitment stretching all the way to 2030- the Family Hubs Network is working with a variety of statutory and voluntary sector services to achieve that goal.
The value of the Family Hubs Network is in its capital of knowledge and relationships, which stretch right back from when the policy architect of family hubs, Dr Samantha Callan, and Lord Farmer began working on Family Hubs as a solution to family breakdown and related issues. The philosophy of the Network is about sharing what works and what is adaptable, recognising differences in funding, demography and infrastructure between the various local authorities, then distributing that information through seminars, our website, personal correspondence and consultancy. In its capacity as a network, it links local authorities, the voluntary sector, statutory bodies and other interested parties.
Although our work is always evolving, the goals of the Family Hubs Network have not changed. Guided by our nine principles of Family Hubs, we exist to see families strengthened and the costs of family breakdown mitigated, through the rollout of effective, holistic, relational Hubs. Family Hubs have come a long way since the model began to emerge in 2007: the government have incorporated it into their policy agenda, while the DfE has drawn on the principles for its own Family Hub Model Framework. At this critical moment of national Family Hub implementation, the Network is working hard with all stakeholders, including the DfE, local authorities, and voluntary sector organisations, to strengthen families across the country.