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Multi-million-pound Family Hub and Start for Life Programme set to establish first two networks

Children and families

03 May 2023

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The Family Hub and Start for Life Programme - a multi-million-pound project to improve life chances for children, young people and their families in North Northamptonshire - is moving forward at pace.

A report before North Northamptonshire Council’s Executive next week (May 11) will hear how the initiative is now being rolled out across the area.

The project – which will see networks established to boost the provision of services aimed at families - has received £4million from government between 2022 and 2025 to help families build resilience and thrive.

Key areas where support will be provided are for:

  • Mental health – during pregnancy and beyond
  • Parenting  
  • Infant feeding 
  • Home learning – to promote early language and literacy development

Although the council is the lead organisation for the programme, it is also working with other partners who deliver services to children and young people, including Northamptonshire Children’s Trust, health partners, the Police, education settings and the voluntary and community sector.

The first two networks are set to be established in Wellingborough and Corby, while further work will take place to create networks in Kettering and East Northamptonshire over the life of the programme.

Giving children and young people the best start in life is a priority for the council, and I’m delighted to see real progress being made in rolling out the Family Hubs Programme.

Ensuring the support is in place at the very early stages of a child’s life is paramount but it’s also important that help is at hand throughout their development journey. This is an exciting opportunity for North Northamptonshire to build on the great services we already have in place, explore best practice and identify and fill gaps in provision where needed.
Cllr Scott Edwards, the council’s Executive member for Children, Families, Educations and Skills

In mid-February this year, the Department for Education confirmed that the council was successful in its application as one of the 75 local authorities which would receive funding.

Family Hubs aim to help families with children aged 0-19 or up to 25 if they have a special education need or disability.

The focus is listening to families and providing a localised accessible central point for services and information to help give children the best start in life.

Next steps

The programme will use a ‘test and learn’ approach to establish services, which means working with families to see what support they need, and how this support can be delivered.

The development of Parent Carer Forums which will be established in each locality will be instrumental in shaping the programme – ensuring Family Hub Networks are listening to local voices.  

The Wellingborough hub network will principally focus on families with children up to five years old. Currently there is minimal access to services for those aged between birth and five, particularly universal children’s centre activities.

Data markers reveal that Wellingborough faces significant issues regarding early learning, with those rated with a ‘good’ level of development at 58.5%, the lowest in North Northamptonshire and below the national average of 65.2%.

Corby already has a strong provision for children aged up to five which will be strengthened. Utilising learning and best practice the Corby network will focus on the five to 19-year-old age group. Data for Corby shows that those with a ‘good’ level of development is at 63.5%.

While the pandemic has had a significant impact on many children the data suggests that there have been long-term issues in some areas regarding child development and we are very keen to address those.

It was essential that we used relevant data to develop our strategy as this was the best way of ensuring that help was targeted where it was most needed. I’m thrilled that Wellingborough will get the assistance it so greatly deserves.

It’s important that we listen to families in the areas to see what help is needed so we can best target support, so the strength of this innovative model is that we will be doing just that.
Cllr Jason Smithers, Leader of the Council

The Executive will meet at Corby Cube on Thursday, May 11, from 10am. The meeting will be broadcast live on YouTube.

Any parents, carers or professionals who would like to be added to the North Northamptonshire Family Hubs mailing list to receive updates and news about how they can be involved, should email: [email protected]