Early Help: Cabinet agrees changes to Children’s Services

Buckinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet has today (4 March) agreed changes to Children’s Services which will mean a new Family Support Service and Early Help strategy for the county.

The recommendations for change were prepared following a recent public consultation, conducted by independent consultation agency BMG Research. This asked residents and organisations for views on how to deliver early help services to support children and families. The changes will take effect from September 2019.

The new integrated Family Support Service will consist of three area-based family support teams working in partnership with other organisations, particularly schools and health, to improve access to services and provide more joined-up services.

The service will include a network of 16 family centres across the county, which were previously used as children’s centres. It will also ensure that a further 19 buildings, which will no longer be used as children’s centres, will be continue to be used for early years services and community benefit. The cabinet has also agreed an Early Help Strategy, setting out the ambition of the service and how the Council and its partner organisations will work together.

Other key elements of the changes include:

  • A named key worker for each family who will create a team around that family to help them tackle the issues they face. This will help ensure they only need to tell their story once, to their key worker.
  • Investment in the Buckinghamshire Family Information Service website to ensure there is effective promotion of community activities together with information and guidance for families.
  • Open access to stay and play sessions for babies and toddlers at family centres.
  • Each school will have a named link family support worker to co-ordinate family support.

Warren Whyte, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: “I am very pleased that Cabinet has decided to establish this new Family Support Service. This new approach will let us put even greater focus on helping vulnerable children and families and on avoiding the escalation of their problems.

“I am also pleased we have listened to the views of our residents and that we will be opening 16 family centres – two more than we has previously proposed. Again, these will help us to get the right professional support to children and families when they need it the most. The changes we are making are absolutely the right thing to do. Supporting our most vulnerable children and families is a priority for us, and these plans will help us to achieve that.” ”

The webcast of the Cabinet meeting is available here, together with the agenda and supporting documentation: