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Family hubs opened in 75 local authorities

Parents across England can now access free help and support at local family hubs, with all 75 local authorities involved in the government scheme now offering access to a centre.

The hubs centralise a range of vital services in one location and act as a ‘one stop shop’ for parents and children. Trained staff provide practical help including early language and communication development, mental health support for parents and carers, and programmes for improving children’s home development.

The government launchedthe new national Start for Life Little Moments Together campaign, which it said will provide free resources and advice to help parents make the most of every moment – even waiting for a bus or shopping together – to further their child’s development. 

The government added that it is investing around £300 million to embed the family hub approach and enhance Start for Life services across the country for families with children aged 0-19 years, and 0-25 years for children with SEND.

On top of this, eligible working parents of 2-year-olds are currently able to register to access 15 hours free childcare per week from April 2024. 

On Monday 8 January, Education Secretary Gillian visited a family hub in Halton to meet with families benefitting from the services on offer.

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.”

Minister for public health, Start for Life and primary care, Dame Andrea Leadsom, said: “It is fantastic to see so many of these vital hubs within easy reach of families up and down the country.

“We’re committed to ensuring all parents get better access to help and support to improve their child’s learning and development, including learning at home.

“The free resources now available through the Little Moments Together campaign will provide vital tools to help parents ensure their baby is getting the best possible start in life.”

The government said that across all 75 local authorities, parents will now have access to a key contact who can support parents with their home learning. Hubs will support parents to improve their children’s language and communication skills and ultimately increase levels of school readiness.

According to findings from Censuswide, 83% of parents are unaware that their child’s brain is 90% grown by the age of five, shedding light on a critical gap in parents’ understanding of the impact they can have in these crucial early years.

The research uncovered that parents prioritise activities like reading bedtime stories (65%) and playing with toys (61%) for their child’s language and communication skills. Yet, everyday moments are often overlooked, which is why the campaign focuses on the importance of day-to-day activities such as the daily routine around the house.

The government said its plan to transform children’s social care also set out how it will reform the children’s social care system, to focus on meaningful early support for families, reducing the need for intervention at a later stage. This includes the Families First for Children pathfinder programme, which simplifies early help services and brings them together into one single system.

Further information on family hubs and early language development support can be found here: https://familyhubs.campaign.gov.uk/

Image by Ketut Subiyanto

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