Early Help Partnership Board – co-chaired by the voluntary and community sector
In Westminster, the development of family hubs is overseen by a well-established Early Help Partnership Board. This board consists of senior representatives from all local partners – both statutory and the voluntary and community sector (VCS). There is a sense of shared ownership and responsibility for early help across the City of Westminster. The board is co-chaired by the head of early help and the chief executive of the Young Westminster Foundation; this models integration and brings the voluntary sector into the governance arrangements as equal partners.
Family hub locality integrated leadership teams
Each family hub has a local integrated leadership team (ILT) made up of operational managers from all key local partner agencies working with children aged 0–19, including youth hub leads, health visiting and school nursing managers, and local VCS partners, as well as social work and targeted early help managers. Parents and carers are an integral part of each ILT.
The ILTs meet monthly, with the aim of streamlining and developing joint plans and practice in response to their understanding of local need. They develop an annual family hub plan, which sets out how the family hub will meet the priorities identified in the Westminster Early Help Strategy. This is informed by local data, practitioner intel and family feedback. The chair of the ILT reports into the Early help Partnership Board, presenting their annual plan and reporting on progress.
The ILT has oversight and responsibility for the development of the local offer, finetuning it to the needs of its local community. All agencies have participated in an information sharing agreement, enabling them to share information between ILT partners to ensure the support families receive is well coordinated and appropriate to their needs. This information sharing is carried out with the consent of families.
The ILT in each family hub locality is chaired by a different partner agency. In one locality, the ILT is chaired by the local authority children’s service. In a second locality the ILT is chaired by a maintained nursery school and in a third, the ILT is chaired by a school headteacher. This ensures equal voice across key partner agencies working together to develop and deliver the integrated family hub model.
Family hub panel meetings
The ILT also ensures that there is a monthly family hub support panel attended by representatives of the wider early help partnership in their area, where professionals can take cases for advice or support.
Family hub panel meetings are a chance for practitioners to present the cases of families needing more support than their own agency can arrange, or cases where issues have not resolved and things feel ‘stuck’. At these meetings, information can be shared by anyone else working with the family, services can offer to provide additional support, and a lead professional is appointed. The referrer attends the meeting either in person or via Skype to explain the family’s situation and the work that has taken place to that point. Families must consent to their cases being discussed at panel meetings. However, if a professional has a concern about a family who do not consent, their situation can be discussed anonymously meaning that the panel can still offer advice. Referrals to the panel are made by contacting the chair. Sharing of information is with the parent’s consent. Following the panel, an integrated offer of support is made to the family and a team around the family is convened.
Family hub locality partnership meetings
A wider family hub partnership (or network) is made up of all the services that work with families across the given family hub area, including, for example, schools, health practitioners, nurseries, health visitors and smaller VCS providers. The aspiration is that this wider hub partnership will meet on a quarterly basis and keep everyone linked into their local family hub offer
In Essex, family hubs governance has been formalised within a single commissioning vehicle. This has given the Essex family hub model a strong organisational identity, signalling a long-term commitment that has allowed the time and space necessary to push through changes with active engagement from all partners.
The HCRG Care Group, in partnership with Barnardo’s, the NHS and Essex County Council, delivers the Essex-wide Child and Family Wellbeing Service (pre-birth to 19; 25 for SEND). This service is responsible for directly delivering support and facilitating other agencies to deliver support from family hub buildings and affiliated healthy family delivery sites.
All family hubs (and the healthy family delivery sites that fall within them) are governed by a family hub advisory board, situated in each district or city council within the county. These boards have been developed using the Sure Start Advisory Board Guidance (2013).
The main aim of an advisory board is to work with family hub staff and partners to advise and make recommendations relating to the development and running of the family hub, and to:
- maintain focus on improving outcomes and the gap for all children and young people
- provide support and challenge to provider agencies working in family hubs
- engage local families and communities in planning and decision-making
- provide targeted support for issues identified in local action plans
- promote equality through access to family hubs for all members of society
- promote awareness of the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service and support this with an effective communication plan
- ensure there is consistent, accessible and up-to-date information, advice and guidance available for parents
- facilitate and encourage integrated working
- contribute to the development of a local action plan and support its implementation
- actively participate in Ofsted and/or CQC inspections
- facilitate joint working with local children’s partnership boards.
Family hub advisory boards meet three or four times a year to oversee activities, agree objectives and development plans, monitor progress through performance management, and ensure the services on offer meet local needs and contribute towards improving children’s lives. Decisions are made in formal meetings. Advisory boards may delegate a sub-group of members to explore issues or carry out time-limited activities between advisory board meetings. Where the advisory board has given a sub-group the right to advise on behalf of the board, it is granted committee status. Committees are required to carry out tasks specifically given to them by the advisory board to aid the work of the family hub, and to report back to the advisory board.
Advisory boards comprise up to 15 voting members, with representation set out in the governance model. All advisory board members serve for a maximum of three years, at which point they can stand for re-election. At the inaugural meeting of the advisory board (and at annual meetings thereafter), a chair and vice-chair are elected for 12 months. The chair will be expected to have clear lines of communication with healthy family team leaders, hub coordinators and any partner agencies.
Healthy family team leaders and family hub coordinators work closely with quality and performance officers, community partnership coordinators and children’s community development officers to plan and deliver child and family support services from family hubs, healthy family delivery sites and elsewhere in the local community.
See the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Centre website for more information.
In Coventry, the family hub offer is central to the Coventry Early Help Partnership as a delivery mechanism of early help to the city’s communities. The partnership has agreed a shared vision and shared values for the development of the model.
Coventry’s family hubs are part of its wider early help partnership arrangements. This includes:
- The Strategic Early Help Partnership, a multi-agency partnership group that is accountable to the Coventry Safeguarding Children’s Partnership (CSCP). In addition, reporting into the Children and Young Peoples’ Plan is required to demonstrate effective delivery and implementation of the Coventry Early Help Strategy and the performance of the integrated family hub model. This includes overall responsibility for oversight of the areas of work outlined in the Early Help Implementation Plan, which will be reviewed regularly within this meeting[link out to ToRs].
- An Early Help Delivery Group – a workgroup of the CSCP consisting of senior representatives from local partners, both statutory and from the voluntary sector.
- Four early help advisory groups (South, Central, East, West) identify priorities for the communities within the local area, develop the local offer and evaluate the impact of early help services on outcomes for children and young people.
- Eight family hubs – places of integration for local partners who can develop a shared approach to working with families and their children aged 0–19 years – where families can access a range of connected services in the community.
- ‘Friends of….’ forums for each family hub where residents, parents and carers, young people and other community members provide feedback and design and develop services to help improve their lives and their community.
- Weekly ‘family matters’ integrated case discussion meetings held at each family hub to review early help requests and identify services to offer families the right help at the right time.
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