Charity 4Children has set out plans to create new Children and Family Hubs in every disadvantaged locality – building on and extending the approach to integrated support pioneered in Sure Start Children’s Centres.
These “super hubs” aim to deliver and coordinate the full range of children and family services in one place, reducing the possibility of children at risk slipping through the net - and the pressure on an overstretched social care profession by identifying and addressing problems earlier.
The hubs will extend the current integrated approach to support in Sure Start Children’s Centres for families of children aged 5 and under, to those up to the age of 19, working with local agencies.
Sure Start Children’s Centres have integrated health, education, employment and specialist support services around children and families and Children and Family Hubs would extend this approach by bringing GPs, health visitors and a new class of social care family worker together under one roof. This would enable multiagency working and information sharing – identified by the Department for Education as critical in detecting children and families at risk.
The report, Children and Family Hubs, published this week recommends the introduction of a new role – the social care family worker – set to transform social care provided for children and allow social workers to focus their stretched resources on more complex cases.
The new Social Care Family Worker would:
- Work though a Children and Family Hub and work closely with all other agencies working with children and families
- Be supported by a new secondary qualification for non-graduate social work assistants
- Allow social workers to focus their work on more complex cases, reducing pressures on the overstretched social work profession
The launch of Children and Family Hubs follows the release of 4Children’s Sure Start Children’s Centres Census, published last month (October 2014), showing a record number of families, 1.05million – 335,000 of whom are on the brink of crisis – turned to Centres for help this year.
Recent YouGov polling found 49% of people said political parties should do more for children and families. 4Children is calling on all political parties to support the expansion of Sure Start Children’s Centres into Children and Family Hubs and guarantee a Hub in every disadvantaged community - to truly transform public services for all children and families.
Commenting on the report 4Children Chief Executive Anne Longfield OBE said: "Serious case review after review highlights the damage that is done when services don’t work together and when professionals are locked in their own silos. This lack of collaboration and lack of information sharing is putting vulnerable children at increased risk of serious harm.
"That’s why 4Children is proposing a new approach to co-ordinate local services through Children and Family Hubs to be built upon the tried and tested network of Sure Start Children’s Centres as trusted and integrated centres of the community.
"This ambitious new approach has the potential to put children and family services at the heart of every community, coordinating services around the needs of local families, from antenatal to social care, working together to join up support and making the best use of the investment from the public purse.
"We are calling on all the main political parties to support Children and Family and Community Hubs, an innovative approach to supporting children and families by redesigning public services using existing resources to respond to local need."