In the current cost of living crisis, 3.9 million children across the UK are living in poverty. Research demonstrates that those growing up in poverty will go on to experience adversity later in life. Family hubs can play a part in addressing this, providing support to families from conception until the age of 19 (or 25 for young people with special educational needs and disabilities).
Family hubs provide families with a single access point to integrated family support services for early help with social, emotional, physical and financial needs. Each family hub is bespoke to its local community while incorporating three key delivery principles: access, connection, relationships.
For families to receive the best help, services need to be joined up and integrated in their approaches. Trusted relationships should sit at the heart of this, so that family members know who to turn to and all partners collaborate well. We are already seeing this happen in numerous family hubs, which are accessible and inclusive – allowing families to thrive.
Each family hub is unique and bespoke to the local community it serves, but there are three key delivery principles that run through all family hubs, which are:
- There is a clear, simple way for families to access help and support through a hub building and approach.
- There are services working together for families with a universal ‘front door‘, shared outcomes and effective governance.
- There are professionals working together, through co-location, data sharing and a common approach to their work. Families only have to tell their story once, the service is more efficient, and families get more effective support.
- Statutory services, the community, charities, and faith sector partners are working together to get families the help they need.
- The family hub prioritises strengthening relationships, and builds on family strengths.
- Relationships are at the heart of everything that is delivered in family hubs.
What do family hubs provide?
Family hubs use a whole family approach to provide a single access point to family support services that is integrated across health (physical and mental health) and social care as well as voluntary and community organisations and education settings. A family hub is only possible when all these things come together. The integration of services into a family hub model may involve changes to the structure of local service provision, and may also involve a shift in how support is offered to families.
You can learn more about this in our toolkit module ‘Why Family Hubs’
Our toolkit is a collection of new, evidence-based resources aimed to support those who are planning to implement and deliver family hubs in their local area.
How can I get more information about setting up and developing a family hub?
The NCFH is planning a series of national and regional events to support local family hub providers in setting up and delivering their early help services. Our events schedule will be built around what you tell us you would like help with so they can be tailored and meaningful. To keep up to date with the NCFH, please sign up for our newsletter by clicking this link. The newsletter will be the best way to stay up to date with our training activities. Apologies for not being able to sign you up directly, but due to GDPR, we have to ask everyone to complete the sign-up form themselves. If you would like specific information regarding consultations, you can also email us at email@example.com
What are you learning from your consultations with stakeholders?
Our consultations have raised a wide range of opportunities, challenges and options for supporting the scaling up of family hubs. We have heard a large minority of local authorities say they are already taking a form of family hub approach in their communities, and we are learning about the wide range of models being used. Some local authorities are using a centre-based/co-located model, utilising the existing Sure Start estate, while others use a virtual integration of services. In addition, there is wide variety in the set of services which are part of the integrated core offer in existing family hubs. We are learning from these areas about how these different service integrations impact on outcomes for children and what changes they are already working towards.
There is a broad consensus around the age ranges for family hubs to focus on, which are 0-19 and 0-25 for SEND. There is also consensus about the need for a universal offer for the early years to engage families, and to continue from there with a life course approach to support. Stakeholders are also aiming to ensure evidence-based practice is central to the family hub offer and we are working closely with the Early Intervention Foundation and evaluation partners to examine this.
In some areas, there has already been good progress in transforming Early Help offers and integrating the Supporting Families agenda, but in others there is more work to do on this integration.
We are also learning a lot about the experience of local authorities in adapting to digital/remote support for families over the past 18 months, and the opportunities and challenges this presents for the family hubs approach.
Early years, parents and young people are very different cohorts to reach out to. How can one Family Hub cater to all of these? Teenagers are unlikely to feel comfortable accessing a space with their parents.
Firstly, it’s important to emphasise that family hubs are about early intervention and prevention, which means they must be available and ready to provide support whenever a child, young person or parent needs it. We will look to what we know works in ensuring that family hubs are accessible and inviting to children and young people of all ages, including teenagers.
Secondly, there are a variety of models of family hubs in practice around the UK, and it is important to highlight that the ‘hub’ itself does not have to be a physical building. Instead, it is an integrated hub of services which can be offered from different physical premises, each of which might be tailored for different target cohorts.
Our local authority is already implementing integrated family support programmes, but under a different name. Does this policy mean they have to start again with a new framework?
Many local authorities are already doing excellent work to integrate services and develop a family hub model to support their communities. We are dedicated to listening to and learning from them, as well as helping them to develop and improve. We are very keen to learn from the evidence and best practice of these pioneering local authorities, as well as from the challenges they have faced in setting up and transitioning to a family hub approach.
The National Centre for Family Hubs will host a repository of case studies of high-quality local authority implementation. It will also share research findings and evidence based practice from other sources, with the aim of giving local authorities the tools, advice and expertise they need to adopt the family hubs approach and deliver the best outcomes for families in their communities.
In addition, our evaluation partners Ecorys and Sheffield Hallam University are already looking in depth at existing family hub models in 6 different local authority areas. So we are working closely with them to ensure best practice and evidence-based interventions are learnt from and shared across the UK.
What is the politics behind family hubs and Sure Start and Children’s Centres? And why is the Anna Freud Centre involved in this?
We understand that there are a range of thoughts and feelings around family hubs. We are critically aware of the progress made through previous – and ongoing – initiatives in local areas. Many of these have made great strides to support children and families, particularly in the early years of a child’s development. We are committed to building on this.
Our focus as the Anna Freud Centre is about making the biggest difference for infants, children, young people and families. We are passionate about developing and championing the family hub model because we know what helps children and young people to thrive, and what builds mental health during childhood and beyond. This is a real opportunity to make a difference to the lives of future generations.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Family Hubs in Mind is our free newsletter, circulated monthly, and will share news from our members, latest events and resources.