Agenda item

Family Hubs Update


This agenda item will provide an update on the progress of the transformation project, associated with the Family Hubs and Start for Life Grant. This update  follows a previous update to Improving Lives Select Commission in March 2023.


This agenda item provided an update on the progress of the transformation project, associated with the Family Hubs and Start for Life Grant. The update followed a previous update to the Improving Lives Select Commission, in March 2023.


The Chair welcomed to the meeting Councillor Cusworth, the Cabinet Member for Childrens and Young Peoples Services (CYPS), Robert Savage, Business Service Manager, Kelly White, Head of Service for First Response and acting Assistant Director for Early Help, Kirsty Woodhead, Locality Manager and Alex Hawley, Public Health Consultant.


The Chair invited Councillor Cusworth to introduce the report and Alex Hawley to lead on the presentation, during which the following was noted:


Rotherham was one of seventy-five local authorities that was chosen for the Family Hubs funding, due to high levels of deprivation. The funding was provided by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Social Care. The funding was provided for transformation work and only 5% was available for capital works.


Changes to management oversight-

·       The newly appointed Acting Assistant Director for Early Help and Business Support would lead the design of the refreshed Early Help Strategy, over the next few months.

·       To provide related support in the short term, the Interim Service Manager for Early Help and the Family Engagement Service had accepted additional responsibilities for the operational Early Help Service. The Consultant in Public Health with the Best Start and Beyond portfolio would lead the continuing Family Hubs transformation, and the Departmental Business Service Manager (CYPS) would support on the Family Hubs programme management.


Location of Family Hubs in Children’s Centres-

·       The Family Hubs programme was delivered across the Borough, using existing buildings which were familiar to children and families.

·       Sites were connected by the digital offer to provide face to face or virtual information, advice, and support for families.


Funded Strands-

·       Family Hubs transformation which included the branding and digital offer.

·       Perinatal mental health and parent-infant relationships.

·       Parenting support.

·       Infant feeding support.

·       Home learning environment and speech, language, and communication.

·       Publishing the Start for Life offer.

·       Parent and Carer Panel.


Co-location in sights delivering the Family Hubs Programme-

·       Infant Feeding Specialist.

·       Three Nursery Nurses based in Family Hubs

·       Substance Misuse workers

·       Health including antenatal and 0 to19 services

·       MESMAC

·       Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

·       Rotherham Ethnic Minority Alliance (REMA)

·       Employment Support Advisers

·       Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

·       Digital Inclusion Team

·       Rotherham Rise

·       Voluntary Sector

·       Birth registration

·       Perinatal Mental Health


Locality Meetings-

·       Monthly multi-disciplinary meetings would bring together colleagues delivering or co-locating from buildings delivering the Family Hubs programme.

·       This would support strong communication between agencies and allowing a structured opportunity to share information about service delivery within the community.

·       It would support strong integration between agencies and practitioners and provide a forum to discuss joint working and shared delivery opportunities.

·       It would provide an opportunity to raise, discuss and resolve issues arising from co-location.

·       It would provide a forum to discuss the local community and arising themes or issues, and agree a joint approach to address those.

·       It would allow opportunities to connect with other organisations not directly part of the Family Hubs programme, but working in the community, such as neighbourhood services.

·       It would provide practitioners with an understanding of the performance targets relating to the Family Hubs programme and their shared responsibility in progress towards these.

·       It would provide practitioners with updates from the Family Hubs Programme Parent and Carer Panel.


Family Hubs Website-

·       The digital offer for children and families was a key element of the Family Hubs transformation.

·       Parents and carers could access the information, advice and support they needed to give their child the best start in life and beyond.

·       The website had launched and content was being added regularly.


Parent and Infant Mental Wellbeing and Relationships-

·       Perinatal meant the period of time from pregnancy up to a year after giving birth.

·       The local Perinatal Mental Health service offered confidential and non-judgemental care and treatment for women with moderate to severe mental health problems who were planning to have a baby, were are already pregnant, or had given birth in the last twelve months. 

·       Programmes that helped parents, carers and babies to form a secure bond and healthy attachment and where needed, provided mental health and relationship support (e.g. Solihull and One Plus One).

·       Work with partners across the Family Hub system was being undertaken to consolidate support available and develop a mild to moderate pathway, to ensure women got the right support at the earliest opportunity.

·       Introduction of VIG (Video Interaction Guidance). Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) was a strength-based, brief intervention that promoted attainment, sensitivity, and mentalisation in relationships. The principles and practice were used to work within any relationship. VIG was effective with parents and carers of children across all ages (including babies and unborn babies). The first three practitioners had been trained through Government funding.  Rotherham had agreed an investment for a further 25 multi-disciplinary practitioners to be trained.

·       The Peep Learning Together Programme helped parents, carers and practitioners to make the most of learning opportunities in everyday life. There was two Home Learning Officers and delivery of the programme launched in January.


Infant Feeding Support-

·       There was an Infant Feeding Coordinator funded by the Family Hubs programme, who led on infant feeding support across the Borough.

·       Rotherham was a Breastfeeding Friendly Borough following a launch in August of the Breastfeeding Friendly Borough Declaration.

·       Rotherham also had an UNICEF Baby Friendly Accreditation.

·       Recruitment was taking place for more Volunteers and Breastfeeding Peer Supporters who would be available to support families on their breastfeeding journey.


Start for Life Offer-

·       From conception to the age of two, children developed rapidly, and experiences laid the foundations for lifelong emotional and physical health.

·       The Start for Life Offer was a publication that described all the support mechanisms for infants and families and included the following-

·       Midwives provided personalised support to families throughout pregnancy and labour.

·       Infant Feeding and Oral Health services supported parents with feeding their babies, breastfeeding support, and advice on nutrition.

·       Health Visiting, Health visitors worked with other Start for Life professionals after childbirth in supporting families. They were responsible for the give mandated child development reviews. Health Visitors did a pre-birth visit so they could see families before birth.

·       Special Educational Needs and Disability services supported disabled or seriously ill babies and their families.

·       Parent-Infant Mental Health services ensured that parents, carers and babies were forming a secure bond and attachment and where needed, provided mental health and relationship support.

·       Safeguarding services sought to protect children from abuse and maltreatment.


Parent and Carer Panel-

·       The Panel consisted of parents and carers from pregnancy and with children 0 to 2 who wanted to shape the way services were delivered by Family Hubs. The Panel was Led by Voluntary Action Rotherham.

·       There was no specific time commitment and the Panel would be involved in a range of activities such as the following-

·       Focus groups.

·       Meetings.

·       ‘Mystery Shopper’ activities.

·       Online surveys and questionnaires.


Upcoming Priorities-

·       To Launch the Family Hubs in Children’s Centres registration form.

·       To complete further co-location of partner agencies.

·       To increase volunteering opportunities in a range of roles within the programme.

·       To continue delivery of evidence-based training for employees.

·       To increase uptake of evidence-based programmes.

·       To establish other sites around the Borough, making it easier for families to access services. 


The Chair thanked the relevant officer for the presentation and invited questions, this led to the following points being raised during discussions:

·       The Programme had led to the introduction of an additional health visit at the three-to-four-month period, which was not one of the five mandated visits. In order to introduce this, the 0-19 service had recruited three additional Nursery Nurse positions. After the funding cases the plan is to evaluate and either re-design the delivery model or seek additional funding for the service. Two Home Learning Environment Officers  had also been recruited within Early Help to roll out the programme using a ‘train the trainer’ model which would ensure continuity across the service once the posts would end.

·       A key priority of the service was monitoring and encouraging the uptake of the programme within the most deprived communities. The service measured and monitored the percentage of children 0-5 living in the thirty most deprived areas in Rotherham, registered with a children’s centre and also accessing how many of those children were accessing the centre. 88% of children aged 0-5 living in the 30% most deprived areas in Rotherham were registered at a children’s centre and 67% of those were accessing the centre.

·       The digital offer was intended to connect all the Family Hubs to ensure there would be no barriers to accessing the service. The digital offer was available twenty-four-seven and had a variety of information, support and e-learning opportunities. It also provided work with partners to encourage professionals to access further learning, which had added value to the voluntary community sector.

·       The statistics of people who attended training (page 57 of the report) would be provided to members in percentages, via a written response.

·       A written response would be provided to all members in relation to the Family Hubs activities available in their wards.




·       That Members of the Improving Lives Select Committee noted the progress made to date in the use of the grant to transform family help and support services.


Supporting documents: