A national report published last month has highlighted the Isle of Wight Council’s approach to early intervention services through the creation of family centres, as a potential model for the rest of the country.
Family centres are focused on delivering early help through family and parenting support/programmes; delivering early education and support to access childcare; supporting special education needs and disabilities; delivering advice and support in relation to improving health lifestyles and providing parents/carers with guidance on education, employment and training.
In March 2016, Lord Farmer (a member of the social mobility committee) visited the Island to better understand the approach that the council had taken in reframing the former children’s centres as family centres, as an example of best practice for the UK sector.
Kathy Marriott, area director for children’s services, children and families at the Isle of Wight Council, said:
“The council designed the ‘family hub’ model following consultation with children and families across the Island. Families told us that they liked the ‘one stop shop’ support and services delivered through children’s centres and wanted that to be available as their children grew up; particularly through adolescence. Providing a more holistic early intervention service around the family is at the heart of this approach.
“It is pleasing to see how our pioneering approach is contributing to the thinking about early help services nationally.”
In April 2015, following a competitive tendering process, Barnardo’s were commissioned by the council, to deliver this service to Island families, using the new model.
Rachel McKernan, assistant director for Barnardo’s, said:
“We are delighted to be working with the Isle of Wight Council to provide integrated early help for children and families through our family centres. The family centres, build on the success of the children’s centre model to provide early support and interventions to children and families 0-19.
“We are working closely with partner agencies including; schools, health visitors, midwives, youth organisations and children’s social care to deliver this wide ranging service which is seeing really positive outcomes for children and young people in need.”
Councillor Jonathan Bacon, leader of the Isle of Wight Council and executive member for children’s services, said:
“I am delighted that our model has been used as an example within a national report and that it is considered as model of best practice for the future delivery of integrated services.
“I am very pleased that we took the opportunity to innovate our service delivery and that the island is positively contributing to the national development of early help services.”