22 Jul 2016, Catherine Gaunt
A report from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Children’s Centres is calling for them to widen the services on offer to include support for employment, relationships, mental health and those with complex needs.
It recommends that the new hubs strengthen links with local employers and Jobcentre Plus to offer support for the long-term jobless.
They should also offer or signpost relationship support to include statutory, voluntary and self-help provision, as well as parenting support to include couples counselling, pe-marriage courses, post-separation support and help with parenting teenagers.
Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton and chair of the said, ‘The Government has rightly made improving the life chances of vulnerable children and families a priority. Children’s centres across the country have real potential to play a lead role in this by extending their remit and transforming themselves into Family Hubs.’
‘Evidence shows excellent examples from across the country where individual centres have broadened their support into a variety of services for the whole family, such as dedicated support for fathers or help to access employment. It’s hard to conceive of a life chances strategy that doesn’t position Family Hubs front and centre.’
Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West and vice-chair of the APPG for Children’s Centres, said, ‘For over the last 15 years, Children’s Centres have been a vital means of support to families who need support in the early stages of family life. These centres have done so much good in that time and it is sad to see so many closing down across the country. Now more than ever, it is important that those families who are struggling do not miss out on the much needed support offered by these centres and that is why we must protect and build on those achievements.
‘By expanding the support on offer and opening the doors to more families, Children’s Centres can be a central hub in our communities for all families to use and do what they do best which is identifying problems and intervening early to ensure those problems do not escalate further and irreversibly damage children’s futures.’