We have heard from many already established Hubs that they quickly became a focal point for co-ordinating support to families and the ‘go to’ place for food distribution, maternity appointments etc. This enabled those working in Family Hubs to continue to identify risk signs and offer more support where it was needed and helped services’ early intervention and prevention efforts. This was particularly important given the fact that many universal services, e.g. schools, were closed at this time.
It is also important to point out that many areas took their first steps towards the Family Hub model in response to the crisis. This was often driven by the local council working with local partners.
Many Hubs were also very nimble in shifting what they offered in-person, from the building, to face-to-face online – not just information, advice and guidance but also providing courses, counselling etc.
In Essex, because the pre-birth to 19 service is fully integrated, all children, young people and their mothers are registered to the service and have a single health record (SystmOne in this case). At every contract point the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service records any identified vulnerability characteristics – known as ‘Priority Groups’.
Examples include: lone parent households, both parents unemployed, parents with drug and alcohol problems, incidents of domestic violence etc. Throughout this pandemic, the service is able to run reports to identify families most ‘at risk’ and offer help. Additionally, parenting support groups that were traditionally offered face-to-face in sites were offered virtually via Cisco Webex and the categories of Priority Groups enabled the service to target those families who would benefit most from these groups.
(Source: Family Hubs: Building Back Better Webinar, hosted by Family Hubs Network and Mutual Ventures, July 2020)