Family hub rollout welcomed but charity warns Government’s vision ‘falls far short’
The rollout of family hubs across England to support parents has been welcomed but the Government vision “falls far short” of what is needed, according to a children’s charity.
Free help including early language and communication development for children and mental health support for parents are now available at centres in 75 local authorities.
The Department for Education confirmed the hubs will act as a “one-stop shop”, with trained staff on hand to give advice and programmes available for improving children’s development at home.
The Government, which has also launched a Little Moments Together campaign to provide free resources and advice to help parents, said it is investing about £300 million to embed the family hubs and enhance its Start For Life services across the country.
But Action For Children, which previously called on the Government to “follow through” on plans to roll out family hubs to support families, said there are “simply not enough early help services available for families”.
The charity said “further and longer-term investment” is needed to ensure all families needing help can access support.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “Family hubs act as one-stop shops and provide a universal offer to parents and families to provide them with extra support when they need it.
“This support is on hand for parents and carers from conception through to those teenage years.
“I’ve seen first-hand how important it is that families are able to build confidence and aren’t made to jump through hoops, explaining their situation to professionals over and over.
“That’s why through family hubs, along with our reforms to childcare and children’s social care, we’re making sure that the right support is available for families in the way that works best for them.”
Paul Carberry (pictured), chief executive of Action For Children, said: “The Government’s vision for every area in England to provide families with supportive and welcoming family services is the right one, and if achieved would mean more families get the help they need. This is something we have long been calling for and have been working with the Department for Education to deliver.
“But there are simply not enough early help services available for families. And one hub within a local authority will not be accessible for most families.
“The level of investment committed to achieve the Government’s vision falls far short of what is required to fill the gaps. We need further and longer-term investment to make sure every family has access to this vital lifeline.”
The Local Government Association (LGA) also welcomed the rollout but said it would like to see it extended to all councils. There are 317 local authorities in England.
David Fothergill, chairman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “It is good news that new family hubs are open for people who need them and this is a testament to the hard work of councils.
“Family hubs represent an important opportunity for councils to support families and to help them gain access to a range of vital services in their communities.
“We’d now like to see this scheme extended to all councils so these transformative benefits can be felt across the country.”
To find out whether there is a hub near you, visit www.gov.uk/find-family-hub-local-area
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