Workforce Development

Executive summary

Family Hubs provide integrated support for families using a place-based approach. What makes them successful and effective is developing a workforce of multi-agency teams and investing in upskilling this workforce. 

Workforce development is a key part of family hub leadership and governance. This brings different workforce strategies together into a single, overarching approach, including the local Integrated Care Board (ICB), health providers, children’s services, voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) providers and faith groups.  

Creating effective multi-agency teams is a complex task. It requires commitment to supporting and developing the workforce and to changing workplace culture. The Family Hubs and Start for Life programme guide highlights the importance of a skilled and integrated workforce, and advocates for using new models to develop skills within teams. This in turn facilitates closer relationships. 

Developing a multi-skilled workforce aligns closely with all three of the family hub pillars: it supports enhanced access to the services that families need, creates greater connection between agencies and facilitates improved relationships both within and around the family.   

In many local authorities, staff may already have strong connections with agencies such as health or VCSE organisations. They may already have adopted a multi-disciplinary approach, such as by co-locating early help and early years teams. It is essential to recognise any such existing strengths which could provide foundations for a workforce development programme. 

The purpose of this module is to highlight the importance of workforce development within the process of setting up a family hub. It highlights key points to consider for staff already working at capacity, who have seen interventions come and go throughout their careers – many of which resulted in little change. This module focuses on the importance of staff wellbeing, recognition of existing challenges, and the need for engagement with the whole workforce to come together behind a common goal.

What should a workforce development plan look like?

A workforce development plan is a structured initiative designed to enhance the skills and knowledge of the family hubs workforce. It should include all staff and volunteers involved in the family hub. Encompassing everyone brings the concept of working as a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency team to life. 

 As well as skills development and training, it is also essential that a workforce development plan includes broader elements of workforce culture and integrated working. More information about workforce integration can be found in our Integration and relational practice module 

Bringing staff and volunteers together to co-develop a shared vision and language can be a useful first step in developing a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary, better connected team. This offers a shared focus for all members of the workforce, regardless of background. Co-developing this vision also helps staff understand the role they and others play in delivering it, while a shared language leads to shared understanding across the team. 

Sharing information on different service areas is also key to developing a multi-disciplinary team. Not all staff need to be trained to deliver a service, but they should understand what each part of the team does so they understand the full offer for families.

Why is it important to think about workforce development?

Investing in developing an integrated workforce will sustain the effectiveness of family hubs. For most local authorities this way of working differs from their existing practices, which is why it is necessary to evaluate workforce needs and support the team in the transition. 

 For families, multi-disciplinary family hub teams:  

  • make their experience seamless 
  • minimise the number of times they have to tell their story 
  • improve access to the right support earlier on, because all team members have a better understanding of the services and programmes available. 

For the workforce, multi-disciplinary family hub teams: 

  • give staff a better picture of the families they work with 
  • enable staff to better support families 
  • offer a more effective and efficient service 
  • enhance job satisfaction, which has a positive impact on workloads. 

Agreeing a shared practice approach for family hubs connects the workforce beyond the activities or interventions each team delivers. Under this approach, families receive an inclusive, consistent and unified experience regardless of organisational barriers. 

Your approach to workforce development should be strengths-based, relational and focus on the whole family. This offers staff a positive, holistic way of working and encompasses the key relationships and the support networks families rely upon. Some areas will have already agreed a practice framework in early help or social care, and this should be used as a starting point.

Consider adopting the Adaptive Mentalization Based Integrative Treatment (AMBIT) framework – it’s designed to help people who have multiple needs and a workforce with competing priorities, and therefore well-suited to family hubs.

Who needs to be included in workforce development?

In addition to the staff and volunteers who form part of the multi-agency team, involving senior leaders from all agencies can achieve their buy-in and ensure staff are supported in whichever service area they work in. Involving families in this broad vision setting can ensure that the service reflects community need.

Find practical guidance on developing a workforce plan in Foundation’s Workforce Assessment guide. You should also consider:

Workplace culture

Developing a positive workplace culture and a sense of belonging within a team can take time, especially where workloads are high, and staff have seen many initiatives come and go. 

Staff sometimes feel they lose their professional identity in the creation of multi-disciplinary teams. This can be mitigated by delivering training to all staff and volunteers on all services offered and mapping out the professional specialisms involved. This creates a professional respect for one another and prevents staff from feeling that they are becoming generalists.  

Considering the physical and virtual space that staff work in can also help them to feel valued. Where possible involve the workforce in the development of working areas and ask and staff and volunteers what they need to work effectively. This might include: 

  • meeting spaces 
  • a kitchen area 
  • access to IT networks and equipment 
  • permanent desk spaces for staff who spend significant time at the family hub. 

As for virtual space, discuss and agree how regularly you will meet online as a team and set a clear purpose for these meetings. Co-location can establish a sense of belonging, although co-locating staff does not mean they’ll automatically work in an integrated way. More information on co-location can be found in our Spaces and co-location module.

Training and skills development

Conducting a skills audit provides a baseline to understand the skills mix within a team. This exercise also offers staff and volunteers the opportunity to highlight the skills they have and address areas for development.

Consider the implications a team made up of individuals working different shift patterns. This means delivering a single day long training session is unlikely to work for everyone. Solutions include themed weeks and delivering training at multiple locations and times of day. Blended online and face-to-face sessions make training more accessible, and twilight training sessions may be easier for school staff.

Where high staff turnover is common, regular induction training sessions can help bring new team members up to speed.

Practice spotlight: Leeds integrated early start offer 

Leeds City Council sought to bring children’s centre staff and health visiting practitioners together into fully integrated teams. 

They created a workforce training and development plan, including details of the development activities available to practitioners and managers. This plan outlined the statutory and mandatory training practitioners have access to, as well as the regular training and development reviews to identify learning needs. This identified opportunities for joint workforce development and led to services being commissioned to deliver training to multi-agency teams. 

They embedded a shared understanding of roles, skill sets and knowledge in the rollout of the programme to ensure specialist staff maintained a sense of professional identity. More detail can be found in the Leeds integrated early start offer case study in our case study library.

Support for staff

The demanding nature of family hub work can impact the wellbeing of the workforce. Adopting a relational practice approach can improve relationships between colleagues, support practitioners’ mental health, and enhance workforce wellbeing. Improving the health of the workforce means improved support for families. 

National guidance is also available on how to support staff wellbeing. This is aimed at early years staff, but offers tips and suggestions that apply to the whole family hubs workforce.  

The place-based approach creates an opportunity to introduce case reflections for each new integrated team to share learning and development. This can be done through a supervisory model or through peer support groups. Supervision frameworks can be applied across an integrated workforce and across organisational and geographical borders.

Shifting to a 0-19 focus

If family hub staff have come from a children’s centre background, they may need support to move from a 0-5 focus to a 0-19 or 0-25 focus. One way to address this when recruiting staff is to consider recruiting from a range of backgrounds, including youth work, teaching assistants and education more broadly. Training is essential for staff who have previously only had an early years focus, and shadowing or peer mentoring can support staff who need it. Involving senior leaders from all agencies will also help staff feel supported during this shift in focus.

Reflective questions

  • Has a skills audit been completed? 
  • Have staff been involved in workforce development plans? 
  • Have all agencies involved in the family hub been consulted? 
  • Have you considered how all members of staff will be supported through the process of moving to more multi-disciplinary working?


Early Help System Guide includes information about a multi-agency workforce 

Workforce Planning within a System includes guidance on developing a system workforce plan 

Integrated workforce thinking across systems: practical solutions to support integrated care systems includes information to support the workforce in line with ICS strategies.

Thinking about your workforce – A guide to conducting a workforce self-assessment offers some practical steps to developing your workforce plan. 

Commissioning guidelines for midwifery and health visiting services and family nurse partnerships. 

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