In the March 2020 budget, the Chancellor committed £2.5million
“…for research and developing best practice around the integration of services for families, including family hubs, and how best to support vulnerable children.”
The Family Hubs Network wants to work with the Government to help them deploy these funds as effectively as possible, so this was a key theme of the Virtual Roundtables.
A substantial body of evidence already makes the case for integrated working and underlies, for example, the Trouble Families Programme. Many of the programmes and activities that are delivered from or based in Hubs are also grounded in evidence. All this needs to be supplemented by evaluations determining if and how integrated working is improved by Family Hubs and the impact that Hubs have on practice, outcomes and value for money. Evaluations based on the “theory of change” which the Hub is working to are likely to be workable and yield valuable information for policy-makers.
“Every hub is different and operates in a different way so you can’t do Randomised Control Trials. We look at Theory of Change based on that organisation. We do a particular evaluation which suits that organisation and collect qual and quant evidence. Our bar is very high. (University of Newcastle)
“We have practice informed-evidence which matters in this space. It’s not just about evidence-informed practice but practice-informed evidence.”
Family Hubs need to be evaluated to identify desired benefits such as:
- Better access to help for families
- Better outcomes for children
- Enhanced effectiveness of professionals and others’ work with families
- Improved financial effectiveness
Participants also emphasised the need for an agreed outcomes framework to which all Hubs could work.
“We have a children’s centres framework for outcomes and we use this to rate integration. Could we have a Family Hubs framework? People would want to use it.”
Specific measures might include:
- Cases where early intervention has avoided referral to statutory services
- How shared outcome planning can improve efficiencies
- Impact of professionals working in partnership to review and help families
- Extent to which Family Hubs meet a whole family’s needs
- Satisfaction ratings amongst local families
- Financial savings from adopting a Family Hubs model