Family Support Service official launch
The launch of Buckinghamshire’s new Family Support Service has been marked with an event at Berryfields Family Centre in Aylesbury, one of the flagship new family centres the service offers.
Families attending one of the centre’s regular ‘Stay and Play’ sessions spoke with staff and councillors to tell them what they think of the new service.
Laura McGuire from Berryfields comes to the centre with her 8 month old daughter, Grace. She said. “I think it’s really good that it’s now for the whole family – it’s better to have it for everybody. I’m hoping to come to adult learning classes they might be putting on here and Grace loves coming to the sessions for babies that are still on here”.
The Family Support Service – which has been running for 4 weeks – replaces the previous network of children’s centres with a broader area-based and integrated support service which shifts the focus of support towards ‘whole family’ solutions.
Sixteen new Family Centres offer universal sessions for parents with young children but also cater for families with children of all ages – 0-19 or up to 25 for those who have children with Special Educational Needs or a disability.
Importantly, via the Council, health practitioners and other experts, the new Family Support Service now provides extra, direct support to vulnerable children, young people and their families with more complex needs but who don’t meet the threshold for social care intervention. Skilled family workers will give hands-on support to those families, aiming to help them to solve their problems before they get worse.
Where families need an extended period of support, Family Support Service staff can work with partners to develop a team around the family to support them and to develop an agreed plan to help them achieve their goals.
Councillor Warren Whyte, Buckinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services spoke to families at last week's event.
“Previously, we were running a large network of children’s centres, used by many families who didn’t need an extra layer of help. Through our new Family Centres we are still running the valued sessions for parents with babies and young children but we can also provide help for all the whole family, whatever age the children are.
Under our old way of working we were seeing a rise in children needing social care support, a rise in school exclusions, more families hitting crisis, so we needed to change how we do things.
Importantly, the new Family Support Service will give more help to those families in greatest need. We are up and running, it’s early days, but I’m confident we are on the right path and we look forward to working with local families to design bespoke programmes at all of our Family Centres, based on what local people need the most.”
For more information about the new Family Support Service go to www.bucksfamilyinfo.org/familysupport