Finding suitable buildings blocks quick roll-out of family hubs, Leadsom says

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Problems in finding suitable buildings to house family hubs is one of the “biggest stumbling blocks” to the scheme being rolled out quickly, Dame Andrea Leadsom has said.

Andrea Leadsom is the government's early years adviser. Picture: UK Parliament
Andrea Leadsom is the government's early years adviser. Picture: UK Parliament

Leadsom, who is early years adviser to ministers, has been heavily involved in parts of the programme which will benefit children for the first 1,001 days from conception to two years old.

Family hubs, which are being rolled-out across 75 local authorities, are set to centralise services including midwifery and health visitor support as well as support for young people aged up to 18 or 25 for those with special educational needs and disabilities.

Speaking in a pre-recorded interview aired at CYP Now’s Early Help Conference in central London on Wednesday (27 September), Leadsom said: “The estate, as in the buildings is perhaps one of the biggest stumbling blocks - if you’ve got a lots of rooms in halls or tiny that don’t lend themselves to becoming family hubs and you want some big buildings to be family hubs.”

She highlighted the need for staff across services from maternity to childcare to be “co-located” in such buildings, adding that while most local authorities had welcomed increased partnership working, “there are transitional arrangements that make things a bit difficult from time to time”.

During the 30 minute-long interview with online editor Fiona Simpson, Leadsom praised “great work” already being done across local authorities which have received a share of £300m funding to set up family hubs around support for new parents with a focus on fathers in particular.

“Often the focus is on mum and baby which dads have said they find quite exclusionary, particularly for dads in same sex couples who have gone through surrogacy, for instance, so we’re seeing a lot of really great work around that. One example is work going on at Hull University around supporting dads,” she said.

The MP for South Northamptonshire also reiterated plans for “red books” which are used to record health information about babies from birth to be moved online.

She also said a key focus for her was to see all local authorities issuing a simple “one-page” Start for Life offer for new parents in the coming months.

Leadsom added that 78 local authorities which had not received funding for family hubs during the roll-out of the initial round of funding in February are “already rolling out some of these services with existing funding” but added that she hopes all councils will receive specific funding for the scheme by 2025.

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