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The announcement of a National Centre for Family Hubs: Supporting families across England to get early help as soon as difficulties arise

The Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP, announced the launch of the National Centre for Family Hubs. This major national initiative will be led by the Anna Freud Centre and funded by the Department for Education. It will support the scaling up of Family Hubs across England, which are integrated early help services that aim to improve the access and quality of early intervention for families as soon as difficulties arise - from the early years of children’s lives and in the years following.

Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre, explains: “We are honoured to be leading the establishment of the new National Centre for Family Hubs. There is nothing more important than the wellbeing of children and their families, and the best evidence and practice tells us that early help is what makes the real difference to their lives. Children should not have to wait for this help. We will work closely with local authorities and other providers to ensure that all families can access high quality early intervention as soon as they face difficulties. Bringing together the current knowledge on what works for families, we will also be listening to what they say they want from Family Hubs, as well as sharing best practice with providers across the country. In making this a priority, we are ensuring that all children have the same chances as others - a positive start in life from the very youngest age.”

The National Centre for Family Hubs will provide:

  1. A virtual learning network and resource library – to collate and share up-to-date evidence of best practice on setting up and delivering Family Hubs across England, while also co-producing new resources with frontline practitioners, parents and young people to support practical implementation.
  2. Training and events – to offer a series of national and regional events to support local Family Hub delivery sites in the setting up and delivery of their services. The training and events schedule will be built around the concerns of local areas, ensuring they are tailored to meet their specific needs.
  3. Expert consultation – to offer specialist support, via our new SupportLine service, to providers who are interested in setting up or delivering a local Family Hub. In addition, organisations leading the implementation of Family Hubs in their locality will be able to request a free consultation to establish what help may be most useful to them.

In 2019, the UK Government made a manifesto commitment to “improve the Troubled Families programme and champion Family Hubs to serve vulnerable families with the intensive, integrated support they need to care for children – from the early years and throughout their lives”. In light of this, the Department for Education commissioned a National Centre for Family Hubs to champion Family Hubs and spread best practice/evidence on integrated family service models across the country. The Anna Freud Centre secured this contract following a competitive public bidding process in early 2021. Programme delivery will commence in May 2021, with the initial contract ending on 31 March 2023.

The Anna Freud Centre is a world leader in generating and promoting evidence and evidence-based practice on child development and early intervention. It has a unique track record of designing and delivering initiatives to engage a diverse range of stakeholders working to support families, and is an established source of information and expertise on improving the lives of children, young people and families. Staff with specialisms in early years (under 5’s), early intervention, reducing parental conflict, community psychology and youth work will contribute to the National Centre for Family Hubs.

The Anna Freud Centre, in leading this work, will ensure that the National Centre for Family Hubs is guided by three main principles: What the evidence tells us works and is good value for money; what families tell us they need and want; and what Family Hub providers tell us about effective delivery.

Visit the National Centre for Family Hubs website. Read the Education Secretary's full speech.