75 areas in England will benefit from the £300 million investment up to 2025
By: Pramod Thomas
Thousands of families in England to benefit from local support in rollout of Family Hubs, a statement said.
Family Hubs offer infant feeding and perinatal mental health support as well as make it easier to access wider services such as smoking cessation and job advice.
Besides, they will also bring together wider wraparound services that can make a huge difference to people who need extra support – such as advice on getting into work, relationship building and stop smoking services.
As many as 75 areas will benefit from the £300 million investment up to 2025, with the new hubs offering support from conception through to age 19, or up to 25 for children with special education needs and disabilities, the statement added.
To fast-track delivery of these services, 14 local authority areas will lead the way and support other local authorities to improve services that are offered to families, so that these can be rolled out more widely across the country.
Children, families and wellbeing minister, Claire Coutinho said: “Having children can be really tough as well as bringing so much joy. All families, from time to time, will need a helping hand. Family hubs bring services together helping parents, carers, children and young people to access the support they need more easily.
“Parenting advice ranges from support with breast feeding and mental health to guidance on how to give children a head start on their learning.”
The government is also confirming the final five areas to receive investment from the Family Hubs Transformation Fund, which sed to operate under the Sure Start banner over to the Family Hub model. This will enable a further 12 local authorities across England to open family hubs by March 2024.
Strong, supportive families make for more stable communities and happier individuals. Investing in families and making sure they get the support they need from birth through to adulthood helps with children’s educational attainment, wellbeing and life chances, while also improving wider outcomes such as poor mental health and unemployment.
As part of the initiative help will provide to give babies the best start in life, as set out in ‘Best Start for Life: a vision for the critical 1,001 days’ led by Dame Andrea Leadsom, which sets out six action areas to improve support for families between pregnancy and age two.
Dame Leadsom’s role as Early Years Healthy Development Adviser will be extended until the end of parliament.
Dame Andrea Leadsom said: “Support for the earliest years is being transformed our ‘Start for Life’ offer will point families-to-be in the direction of their Family Hub, and the help they can get there will include a warm welcome, parenting advice, antenatal help, health visiting, mental health and infant feeding support and even advice on relationship building or how to get into work. There will be a strong focus on dads and co-parents who have for far too long been left out.”
Minister Neil O’Brien said: “There is robust evidence that the 1,001 critical days from pregnancy to the age of two are vital for development and impact a child’s physical and emotional health for the rest of their life.
“Better access to family hubs and additional funding for critical Start for Life services will provide more families with the right support for their baby to get the best start in life – including support for mental health, building strong and healthy relationships and infant feeding.”
Peter Fonagy, chief executive of the Anna Freud Centre, said: “Family Hubs make a positive difference to parents, carers and children by providing a single access point to services that can help them during challenging periods. We know how important early intervention is in improving physical, mental and emotional health outcomes for young people, and in helping to build a strong foundation for them to prosper in later life.
“We are proud to lead the National Centre for Family Hubs, which provides a national platform for the implementation of family hubs in local areas, and to be able to extend support to more areas across the country. Our work champions, develops and disseminates evidence and best practice across communities to help local authorities to build family hubs that are accessible and inclusive to all, particularly those families who are living in poverty, experiencing discrimination and exclusion, and those who have children with special educational needs or disabilities.”