You said, we’re listening - consultation on changes to early help services for children and families extended
The consultation on a new approach to supporting children and families with early help has been extended until 16 October and further detail added following a mid-consultation review.
Available online at www.buckscc.gov.uk/earlyhelp the consultation seeks feedback on a new way of supporting children and families earlier to prevent them needing more intensive help from social care services in the future.
The consultation which launched on 14 July 2017 has been running for seven weeks and has received over 1900 responses to date.
Following a mid-point review of responses the council have added further information on the current services included, as well as how these might change and what the proposed new service could look like.
The consultation outlines proposals for a new approach to helping children and families, to ensure small problems don’t get bigger and too difficult to manage. From money worries, parenting tips, behavioural issues right through to support with mental health and domestic abuse - the proposal is to work with families to tackle all of their problems at the same time.
This will mean changes to existing early help services that the council deliver or commission. These are:
- Bucks 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
- Support for parents through Barnardo’s
- Young carers support
- Youth Services
A new Early Help service would replace all of these existing services, bringing them together to create one service with teams of family workers based in the local community. This will mean they can reach out to these families to work with them at home or in places they are most comfortable. This could be a local community venue, their school or a coffee shop.
The proposal would see nine Early Help bases in the areas of highest need providing targeted support. Families will be offered one to one support or invited to activities such as parenting courses and partner led sessions (for example, breastfeeding support run by health visitors) for those who need this support. Other group sessions may be run in other community settings, such as schools or village halls, depending on the demand. In the proposed new service, there will not be a ‘drop in’ option at the new Early Help bases for children and families.
There has been a steady increase in the number of children and families needing support from children’s services in the last few years. This, along with less money in the public purse means that the Council are reviewing how to deliver services better to help the children and families who need it the most.
Proposals for change follows a review of current services supporting children and families and best practice taking place across the country. This highlighted that support isn’t always reaching children and families who are most in need of our help, quickly enough or in the right ways. It also showed there are many families who get support from a number of organisations to help with problems they are facing as a family but this isn’t always joined up.
Warren Whyte, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: “I am really pleased there has been such a good response to the consultation so far. I want people to know that we are listening, which is why we have added more information about what the proposed change could mean for current services and the future. We want to make sure that people have as much information as possible to be able to give their views and have the time to respond fully. I am committed to making sure we get this right for families in Buckinghamshire.
Our aim is to make sure we provide the right early help services at the right time to the families that need them most. We know that some of our current services don’t always reach those families, and our public services don’t have the resources to continue to support services for all in the same way any more. We want to join up services for families to make it much easier for residents who need help to obtain it.
I’d encourage you to have your say and help us shape the very best services for children and their families for the future.”
The consultation has been extended to 16 October 2017. It is available online at www.buckscc.gov.uk/earlyhelp and residents can also complete it online in their local library.
People that have already responded to the consultation are welcome to respond again if their views have changed following the additional information added this week.
For further information on Early Help, the Early Intervention Foundation website provides information and resources: http://www.eif.org.uk/