Questions about changes to early help services

Why do services need to change?

There has been a steady increase in the number of children and families needing our support in the last few years. This, along with less money in the public purse means that we need to look at how we can deliver services better to help the children and families who need it the most.

What is Early Help?

Early help is when we help children and families in the early stages when a problem begins to avoid small problems getting bigger. The sorts of problems a family might face and need help with range from parenting worries, behavioural issues with their children, money worries, relationship breakdowns, and being out of work.

What services does this consultation involve?

A number of County Council services provide some form of early help. We currently deliver or commission these early help services, some of which provide statutory services:

  • Buckinghamshire Family Information Service
  • Children’s Centres
  • Advice and support for young people through Connexions Adviza
  • Early Help coordinators
  • Families First
  • Family Resilience
  • Support for children who have lived with Domestic Violence (Refuge and Outreach) (Women’s Aid)
  • Support for parents through Barnardo’s
  • Young carers support
  • Youth Services

What will happen to these services?

Our proposal is to bring together all these services that provide early help to children and families and create one service, the Early Help service. This will mean that some services will remain relatively unchanged and others will be delivered differently. We want to join up services for families rather than them having to do so themselves.

How much money would a new early help service cost? 

It is proposed that a new Early Help service would cost £7.125m to run which could save the council £3.344m through a redesign and joining up of services. Changing services for families is not just about saving money but getting the best value from our resources and ensuring those who need help the most can receive help before their problems escalate.

Does this model mean that some services will close?

The proposed new service would replace and bring together current services for families that provide early help.  The proposals suggest a new way of delivering services to ensure we are supporting families who need help the most in the best way going forward. We know that some of our current services don’t do this very well and we don’t have the resources to continue to support services for all in the same way anymore.

A review of the buildings currently occupied by the teams and services affected is underway alongside this consultation and proposals about their future use will be developed. Where possible we would like to re-purpose these buildings to be used for other early years and children’s services and some could be used as bases for the new service. These will be presented as part of the final recommendations following analysis of the response to the consultation.

How will this service be better for families?

We know now that families who need help often have support from a number of different teams and organisations. This support isn’t always joined up which can cause frustration for the family, and it doesn’t always make things better quickly or in a way that lasts. Families have told us that they want to have one person to talk to. The proposed new service will be able to support the whole family with all of the problems they are facing. There will be one person that they work with.

Bringing all of these services together will also provide a better value for money service for families.

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