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How will Early Help services change

What is Early Help?

Early help is when we help children and families in the early stages when a problem begins to stop small problems from getting bigger. The sorts of problems a family might face are many and varied but they can include parenting worries, behavioural issues with their children, money worries, relationship breakdowns, and being out of work

What does this change mean?

We will have one service to support children and families when things are getting tough to stop them from getting too difficult to manage. We want to focus on helping families earlier, supporting the whole family as opposed to families having lots of services involved in their lives at the same time.
This change will mean we can focus on taking services out into the community and reach more children and families who need our help.
Our new service will be have nine bases in areas of highest need but the focus is on reaching out into the community. We want to invest more in frontline service and less on buildings so we will be talking with local communities for the remaining 28 children’s centres to find new uses for these buildings going forward.

Why do we 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. 

We know that some of our current early help services could support children and families better. There are many families that get support from a number of different services at the same time which can be confusing. It would be better for families if this support was more joined up.

What will the impact be?

A better, more coordinated service for children and families. Families will have one service that will help them with all of their issues, and one worker they can build relationships with to help them deal with their problems.
This does mean that current services will change as we will bring all the services that currently provide early help for families together to create one service.

What services will be brought together to make the new early help service?

The following services that we deliver or commission currently provide some form of early help and are included in this change:
• 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 parents through Barnardo’s
• Youth Services

What will happen to these services?

We will bring together and replace all these services with one service. We want to join up services for families rather than them having to do so themselves.
This means that all the workers from these services that support children and families with early help will be part of one service, sharing their expertise and experience of supporting families across all age ranges and a wide range of issues.

Where will the nine community team bases be?

The new service will operate from nine bases in areas where we know there are more children and families in need, with more of a focus on reaching out into the community. This aim is to enable family workers to go out into the community to meet with families in places where they feel most at ease. The team bases will be at the following locations:

  • Aylesbury Quarrendon
  • Aylesbury College Campus, Oxford Road
  • Aylesbury Elmhurst, Dunsham Lane
  • Buckingham
  • Burnham, Minniecroft Road
  • Chesham Newtown, Berkhampstead Road
  • Wycombe Castlefield, Rutland Avenue, Castlefield
  • Wycombe Millbrook, Mill End Road
  • Wycombe Hamilton Road

Seven of these will make use of the existing children’s centre buildings. Quarrendon and Buckingham are currently being assessed for the right locations.

What will the team bases be used for?

The team bases will enable staff to work together across all age groups and the wide range of issues families face, sharing their expertise to give families and children the right support.
Depending on the facilities at each base, they will also be used to hold group or specialist sessions targeting local families as well as a place for family workers to meet individually with families.
However, the nature of the new service is to go out into the community more so it is likely that we will use other community locations for group sessions across the county to ensure we are taking our services to where families need us in the community.
Family workers will support families within their community and in places where they feel most comfortable. Families will work together with their one worker to help them access the support they need.

What will happen to the other 28 children’s centres?

The new service emphasises that services provided in local communities are more important than the buildings they currently operate from. We acknowledge the strength of feeling from some residents about the importance of children’s centres as community focal points.

We would like to maximise the use of these buildings for the benefit of local children, families and the community. We will be talking with schools, Early Years providers, partner organisations, and the local community to generate ideas for how these buildings could continue to be used going forward.

If you have any ideas about the children’s centre in your local community you can send them to us at

Some of the options that we are exploring include:

  • Increasing early years childcare places in areas where there is a need for additional places. This could be through an Early Years provider (private, voluntary, independent sector and maintained) who would be interested in using the Children’s Centre buildings for childcare for 2,3 and 4 year olds.
  • Whether schools with Children’s Centres on their sites have additional priorities for using the building for their use and/ or community use.
  • Holding discussions with partners, voluntary and community groups to identify whether they could utilise the buildings for existing services and for community uses/ groups.

What about services that I get at my children’s centre now?

This is a different way of supporting families by going out to where they are and not relying on families coming to centres for support.
Many services that use children’s centres as a venue for their services will continue. For example, health visitor clinics which include drop ins, post-natal well-being groups, post-natal and antenatal clinics, breastfeeding support, and child development reviews will continue to be provided across the county. Specific services such as speech and language support for children, grief counselling and parenting classes will also continue to be delivered by partners or by the new service. In the future they may be held in different locations, but we recognise that these still need to be provided in locations that are easy for families to get to. There are many social groups and activities for children and families that take place in Buckinghamshire. We have, and continue to map where there is support, activities and groups for children and families to access in the county. We will be developing how we share this information and let families know what is out there.

How will this be better for children and families?

Currently most early help services are based on a particular age group, single issue or one approach to supporting children and families. This means that many 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 new service will be able to support the whole family with all of the problems they are facing. There will be one person that will support families to develop an action plan and support them.
Bringing all of these services together will also provide a better value for money service for families.

How will I get the support that I need in the new service?

As you do now, you can speak to someone you trust about what is happening with you and your family. This could be anyone from your GP, midwife or health visitor, to a teacher or someone from your child’s school. They will be able to refer you to the service for support.
You can also talk to us directly. In the new service there will be a dedicated phone line where you will be able to ask for advice before anything else, or by emailing us. You will also be able to find advice and information for you and your family on our website.
Over the coming months we will work with our partners so they are clear on the new service and how to contact us.

How will you ensure you reach families?

We will be working closely with our community and voluntary sector partners to ensure they are aware of how to refer families to us for support in the new service.
We want to work together to ensure children and families feel they can go to the people who they trust for help and that those people know how to get that help for them.

When will this change take place?

Implementing a new service takes time. We will be working now to develop the details of the new service and planning a transition period with the aim to have a new service in place by June 2018.


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