Investment will create ‘Family hubs’ to help children from disadvantaged families in England

A family goes walkabout at Canary Wharf.

Thousands of babies and children living from disadvantaged families in England are set to benefit from a multi-million-pound package which, the government says, will improve access to support, advice and services from birth through to adulthood.

A total of 75 local authorities will be eligible to apply for their share of a £302 million pot aimed at creating new ‘Family Hubs’, which will provide parents with advice and guidance on how to take care of their children and ensure their health and safety.

And through the government’s Supporting Families programme, around 300,000 of the most vulnerable families will receive help from a dedicated keyworker who will offer practical assistance, such as hands-on parenting support, backed by backed by a further £700 million. Among those who have been supported by the programme, young people are 38 per cent less likely to end up in prison and 32 per cent less likely to end up in care.

A large share of this funding will be split among eligible areas to roll out bespoke parent-infant relationship and perinatal mental health support. Early intervention helps to improve children’s mental health and life outcomes, which is why, says the government, this investment is an important step to better support the first few years of a child’s life.

‘An important step to support a child’s first few years’

Kemi Badenoch, the government’s Minister for Levelling Up Communities, said: “Stable and secure families are the bedrock of society. We want vulnerable families to get the right support at the right time to stop problems from escalating.

“We’ve seen the significant impact the Supporting Families programme has had on families right across the country over the past decade and with the additional funding we’re providing, even more vulnerable families will be able to get the help they need.”

The announcement comes as new research shows that last summer alone, almost three-quarters of a million children benefitted from fun activities and healthy food through the Holiday Activities & Food (HAF) programme. Of these, 616,000 children took up a free, government-funded place, for those who are either eligible for free school meals or considered by the local authority to be in need of this provision.

Clubs around the country targeted disadvantaged young people to benefit their health and wellbeing, and 70 per cent of those surveyed had never before been to this kind of free summer holiday provision.

‘Family hubs can provide early intervention’

Andrea King is Director of Clinical Division at the Anna Freud Centre, which works to understand and improve the mental health of children and families. She said: “It will provide much needed funds to support local children’s services leaders to collaborate and co-design support for some of our most vulnerable children and families, through the delivery of family hubs.

“By working within communities and alongside children’s services, family hubs are able to deliver early intervention and support services when the need arises. This funding will provide thousands of children and young people with more opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

Author: Simon Weedy

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