Game-changer Hubs to resolve family and social care crisis

05 November 2014

Children and Family Hubs Model main photo4Children is today setting out a game-changing plan 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.

The new “super hubs” will 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 today 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 commissioned by 4Children 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."

Notes to editors

  1. The Department for Education's report in 2013 on learning from Serious Case Reviews (from 2009-11), found that information sharing between and within agencies was identified (from a sample of reports) as missing in 95% of cases and “ascertaining the ‘whole picture’ regarding the child/family” in 80%.
  2. The YouGov Plc poll was carried out online between 8-9 September 2014. Total sample size was 2,099 adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). The poll found almost a quarter (23%) of people said they would like a greater commitment from political parties for better joined up local services. Almost a third (28%) of respondents want a greater commitment from political parties to do more to support families who are struggling with daily life.
  3. Every year, £9billion is spent on the 500,000 families who are just coping with multiple and complex needs, according to the Riots Communities and Victims Panel. The Early Intervention Foundation has calculated the cost from failing to tackle problems before they arise as being as high as £5,485 per young offender per month, £46,389 per child taken into care per year, and £4,528 per 18–24 year-old not in employment, education, or training (NEET) per year. According to the National Audit Office, early action could bring a return on investment of up to four in one in the long term.
  4. More than £10billion has been invested to create more than 3,500 Children’s Centres since 1999, 3,300 of which remain. Originating from Sure Start Local Programmes, Children’s Centres have a specified core purpose - to improve outcomes for young children and their families and reduce inequalities between families in the greatest need and their peers in child development and school readiness; parenting aspirations and parenting skills; and child and family health and life chances. Sure Start Children’s Centres are mechanisms to integrate services including health, education, employment and specialist support around children and families.
  5. Children and Family Hubs are proposed to build on this tried and tested approach in Sure Start Children’s Centres which will remain at their heart with more integrated services around them. This pioneering whole family approach would enable all services to work in more a coherent and joined-up way to deliver better outcomes for all.

Children and Family Hubs would:

  • Build on existing infrastructure of Sure Start Children’s Centres to revolutionise wider services and social care into an integrated family approach. The Hubs would offer community-led support and advice to all families in the area and also coordinate specialist and targeted services for those who need extra help.
  • Provide whole family support – enabling all services to work with families in a joined-up way with emphasis on early intervention to stop problems from escalating and turnaround support for those in crisis.
  • Integrate services – improving partnership working and data sharing.
  • Work across all ages - provide support to families with babies and children up to the age of 19.
  • Enhance existing services - including childcare, family therapy and supporting more hard to reach families. 
  • Be part of a set of measures to overhaul social care – by taking a holistic family approach to integrating the work of partner organisations in the community. The creation of a new role, the social care family worker, would enable social workers to focus on more complex cases and helping to identify problems early enabling preventative support to be given to families.


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