Thousands of vulnerable or low-income families in England will benefit from a multimillion-pound investment to improve access to early education, health and care services.
The government has set out plans to elevate its Family Hubs programme, backed by £20m of new funding, that will support councils to set up new Family Hubs in up to 10 new areas.
Family Hubs offer families, children and young people somewhere to access a range of support services.
This can include early education and childcare, mental health support, meetings with health visitors or attending parenting classes, counselling or advice for victims of domestic abuse.
The hubs, delivered in person and supported virtually via online services, help families, children and young people more easily access the help they need, regardless of where in the country they live.
They bring services together into one place, preventing parents and carers from having to search for different types of support that might otherwise be too hard to find, especially for those on lower incomes.
This helps build connections between families, professionals and voluntary services.
Commenting, Children and Families Minister, Vicky Ford said:
“It is absolutely vital that all families across England have access to the same high-quality services in their local communities, no matter where they live.
“Services like these, which offer early help and intervention, can make a huge difference for parents and carers, levelling up opportunities for every child to fulfil their potential.
“That is why we are championing Family Hubs and this additional £20m investment will drive forward this programme, helping to grow and expand hubs across the country, so that even more parents and children can access the early health and education services we know can have a lifelong positive impact.”
The £20m announced, awarded from the Treasury’s Shared Outcomes Fund, will include:
- £10m for the Family Hubs ‘Transformation Fund’, which will support local authorities to open family hubs in approximately 10 new areas of England. Family Hubs are already operating in several areas of England, providing vital support services to vulnerable families.
- £10m to expand the ‘Growing Up Well’ digital project, designed to level up outcomes for vulnerable and disadvantaged families. This involves improving how information is shared between professionals working with families and children in these hubs.
This builds on the government’s commitment to champion Family Hubs so that they help provide families, including those who are more vulnerable, with intensive support for their children, not just in the early years but throughout their lives.
The government has already invested £14m to deliver on this commitment, including the introduction of a National Centre for Family Hubs earlier this year.
This is led by the Anna Freud Centre to scale-up the number of Family Hubs and spread best practice on what works well to hub providers across England.
Many councils have already started to open Family Hubs, benefitting families across the country.
They often operate an ‘open door’ approach, with families able to have better access to vital services and receive support from a range of professionals, including midwives, health visitors, GPs, schools or social services.
The investment follows the publication of the ‘Best Start for Life: A Vision for the 1,001 Critical Days’, led by MP Andrea Leadsom and published by the Department for Health and Social Care in March 2021.
It identified six action areas which will help to have a transformational impact for babies and their families.
One action area was to champion Family Hubs as a place where parents and carers can access Start for Life services.
The National Centre for Family Hubs will make sure councils understand how best to build a Family Hub network and to take steps at a national and local level to reduce the stigma some parents or carers experience when asking for help.
The Department for Education also recently launched a second round of recruitment for three more local area partners for the Family Hubs - Growing Up Well project.
Three additional local councils, primarily based in disadvantaged areas, will be recruited as part of the project to help develop data and digital products to support the practical implementation of Family Hubs.
This will involve working with the Department for Education to provide local insights to help develop digital solutions that reflect their community’s local needs.
The project aims to improve how professionals collaborate and plan for families, with a particular focus on improving how information is shared and improving access and navigation of services for families.
It builds on work already being carried out by both Bristol City Council and Lancashire County Council who were recruited in the first round of the project.