Thousands of families to be offered parenting help through local hubs
Thousands of families across England will be offered help with infant feeding, mental health and relationship building through “family hubs” being rolled out in communities.
The Government said the £300 million programme will benefit 75 areas up to 2025, with hubs offering support from conception through to age 19, or up to 25 for children with special education needs and disabilities.
Family hubs will act as a “one-stop shop” to offer guidance and advice on issues including infant feeding, mental health support, health visits and parenting classes.
They will also offer advice on getting into work, relationship building and stop smoking services.
A parenting programme has praised the move, saying family hubs will “provide a judgement-free space” for people to get help amid the cost-of-living crisis.
Children, Families and Wellbeing Minister Claire Coutinho said: “Having children can be really tough as well as bringing so much joy. All families, from time to time, will need a helping hand.
“Family hubs bring services together helping parents, carers, children and young people to access the support they need more easily.
“Parenting advice ranges from support with breast feeding and mental health to guidance on how to give children a head start on their learning.”
Asked how the hubs differ from Labour’s Sure Start centres, which were hit by cuts under Tory governments, Ms Coutinho told Sky News: “The difference with family hubs is we’re very much targeting them in areas of deprivation.”
The hubs are for ages 0-19, compared with Sure Start’s 0-five, she added.
Asked how it will be determined whether the £300 million of new funding is well spent, she said outcomes would be “rigorously evaluated”.
The hubs will also provide early language and communication development for young children to prepare them for school at the age of five.
Fourteen local authority areas will become “trailblazers” and receive extra funding in order to fast-track delivery of services.
Matt Buttery, chief executive of parenting programme provider Triple P UK and Ireland, said: “We are delighted that more sites will receive transformation funding, alongside some excellent trailblazer areas. It is now critical for the hubs to get up and running across the UK as soon as possible, to alleviate the increasing pressures faced by parents and young people.
“The cost-of-living crisis and the aftermath of the pandemic have taken their toll on the mental health of young people and the sooner they can access more support, the better.
“By offering a range of joined up services such as infant feeding, mental health support and parenting programmes like Triple P, these hubs will provide a judgment-free space for parents to get additional help and improve outcomes for babies through to teens.
“The 75 family hub areas are a brilliant start, and we hope their success will lead to an even wider roll-out across all local authorities.”