Introducing Family Hubs

Family Hubs are centres which 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 reduce family poverty, improve mental health and lead to lower crime, unemployment and other negative outcomes which carry significant cost to the public purse. They are centres which 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 need a central point from where services are accessed, 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 are trained to respond sensitively and efficiently to families’ enquiries. The Family Hub model enables every region to make the most of the buildings/delivery sites they have available rather than make demands for new buildings. 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).

The relationships between the Family Hub, families and other delivery sites are equally important to ensure a holistic approach and, as far as possible, a seamless 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).

Hubs are characterised by:

  • A relational approach adopted by everyone who works in the Hub. 
  • An understanding of the importance of Early Help and prevention. 
  • A whole-family approach which focuses on disadvantaged and vulnerable children. 
  • Families have somewhere they know they can go if they need information, advice or guidance for family and relationship issues.
  • Parents can get help for difficulties in their relationships with each other and not just with their children. 
  • Integrated health and public health priorities, such as health visiting and maternity, with social services and Troubled Families programmes. 
  • Continued support 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.