Children in Devon and their families will see a new model of support services, in line with national Government guidance.

Since first introduced in the late 1990s in response to the Government-led Sure Start initiative, Children’s Centres in Devon have supported thousands of young children and their parents, with targeted early years support and other services.

But last year, the Government proposed a new initiative, and now the Department for Education and the Department for Health and Social Care are working with local authorities across the UK to roll out their ‘Start for Life’ programme and develop Family Hub programmes in accordance with local need.

Devon County Council has announced that it wants to start a transition from Children’s Centres to Family Hubs in Devon. This would include working with partners and stakeholders to shape the model, which is likely to take 12 months, with a view to developing a county-wide Family Hubs programme to begin in 2025.

The Government says that Family Hubs will improve families’ access to services, describing them as “…a local innovation, developed to meet local needs and better support families.”

They’ll do that by developing and growing partnerships with existing voluntary groups and charities that already support parents of young children in local communities.

They will focus on a partnership approach for early help and support for families and children aged 0 to 19 including support for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Exactly which services each Family Hub will deliver will develop from what local families need, but examples of the sorts of advice, information, intervention and support that Family Hubs in Devon may deliver could include:

early help and prevention services, delivered by Devon County Council, wider early years services and education

Public Health, Public Health Nursing and Midwifery services and support, as part of the government’s Best Start in Life initiative

activities, support and opportunities being made available locally by community groups, charities and the voluntary sector

drug, alcohol and domestic abuse or violence support, wider health support for children and young people including mental health support and neurodevelopmental support, community activity based short breaks offered for disabled children and young people

youth services, services for families with adolescents. Children’s Centres in Devon are currently run on the County Council’s behalf by the charity, Action for Children.

Action for Children will now  work with Devon County Council to start the process of introducing Family Hubs to the rest of the county.