£20m investment in early support for families in England
We welcome today’s announcement from the Department for Education of £20m funding to provide more early health and education support for families in England.
The money will be spent on the Family Hubs initiative which offer families, children and young people somewhere to access a range of support services, which can include early education and childcare, mental health support, meetings with health visitors or attending parenting classes, counselling or advice for victims of domestic abuse.
The Hubs are supported virtually via online services and aim to help children, young people and families access support more easily, regardless of where they live. The program is designed to bring services together into one place, preventing parents and carers, especially those on lower incomes, from having to search for different types of support. It also aims to facilitate the building of connections between families, professionals and voluntary services.
The funding will be split evenly between the ‘Transformation Fund’ – which is supporting local authorities to open Family Hubs – and the ‘Growing Up Well’ digital project – which aims to improve how professionals collaborate and plan for families, by focusing on information sharing and enhancing the ‘user experience’ for families who need to access and navigate Family Hub services.
Chief executive of The Fostering Network, Kevin Williams, says: ‘We welcome the announcement and agree that investing in strengthening relationships and keeping families together is much more effective and beneficial for children than allowing families to reach crisis point.
‘We are extremely proud of our own work in this area through our award-winning Step Up Step Down and Mockingbird projects, which improve stability and safeguard relationships for children and young people and their families. We would like to see these programmes be more widely available across England and the UK.’
Step Up Step Down is a pioneering approach to prevent children who are on the periphery of the care system from being taken into care, and instead supporting them to stay within their own homes.
Mockingbird is an innovative method of delivering foster care using an extended family model which provides sleepovers and short breaks, peer support, regular joint planning and training, and social activities. The programme improves the stability of fostering placements and strengthens the relationships between carers, children and young people, fostering services and birth families.