Council to consult on 'Early Help' services
Hackney Council is launching a review of its Early Help services - and is inviting residents to share their experiences.
Early Help is an offer of support and opportunities designed to help children, young people and their families to maintain good health and wellbeing and develop the personal strengths and skills that will prepare them for adult life.
A number of organisations offer different types of Early Help, including schools, community and voluntary organisations, health services and the Council. The Early Help offered by the Council is mostly provided through Children’s Centres, Young Hackney, and the Council’s Family Support Service.
The Council wants to ensure that it is providing the right sorts of opportunities and help in a way that is well-aligned with the work other organisations and partners are doing, to make sure we are all delivering the very best services for Hackney residents, and to improve access to services.
Over the coming months the Council will speak with children, young people and families, staff working in schools, health, other partner organisations and members of the wider Hackney community to find out what they think of our existing Early Help offer and what they want Early Help to look like in the future. People will be invited to share their views via a number of channels, including workshops, group discussions, one-to-one interviews and an online survey. Service users and staff will continue to be involved with the development and roll-out of any proposals.
We’re proud of our Early Help services, which were recognised by Ofsted as being 'well-developed and effective'. As a Council, we are fully committed to investing in these important services, and want to make sure they are still providing the sort of support our residents need.
The aim of the review is to ensure that we are using our resources and skills in the most effective way. This is going to be a significant piece of work, and the feedback we receive will genuinely help to shape the future of Early Help services in Hackney, so I’d encourage anyone with an interest to get involved.
The Council is inviting anyone in Hackney with experience of Early Help to complete an online questionnaire and take part in discussion sessions. Paper copies will be available from children's centres, libraries and Young Hackney hubs. For more information visit: https://consultation.hackney.gov.uk/young-hackney/help-shape-early-help-in-hackney/
What is ‘Early Help’?
Early Help is an offer of support and opportunities designed to help children, young people and their families to maintain good health and wellbeing and develop the personal strengths and skills that will prepare them for adult life. It is intended to help children and young people to overcome barriers that limit their future social and economic opportunities or that increase the likelihood of mental and physical health problems.
Effective Early Help enables a child or family to meet their short term needs and helps them develop the resilience and resources to improve their long term life chances. In some cases, it can prevent a family’s needs escalating to the point where they need support from children’s social services or prevent a young person from becoming involved in crime.
Early Help services are services which families must choose to engage with. It can be offered to a child or young person and their family at any point up to their 19th birthday (or their 25th birthday where they have a special educational need or disability).
There are a number of organisations offering some form of Early Help in Hackney, including schools, community and voluntary organisations, health services like CAMHS, and the Council.
The Early Help offered by the Council is mostly provided through Children’s Centres, Young Hackney, and the Council’s Family Support Service.
Why is the Council carrying out a review of Early Help services?
It has been a number of years since we reviewed our Early Help offer as a whole and we believe it is important to review all our services periodically to ensure that as the world around our residents changes, and new risks and challenges arise within Hackney’s communities, the support and opportunities we provide are still a good fit for people’s needs.
The Council is reviewing its Early Help services because we want to ensure that we are doing the best we can with the resources available to support Hackney’s children and young people, and their families, to achieve the best possible start in life. We want to ensure that we are providing the right sorts of opportunities and help in a way that is well-aligned with the work our partners are doing, so we get the best value for the time and money that we invest in Early Help across the whole system of public services.
How much does the Council currently spend on early help?
In 2019/20, the Council will spend £16.58m on its core Early Help services (on Children’s Centre and Young Hackney provision and on family support work).
However, the total overall amount the Council will spend on providing Early Help to children, young people and their families in 2019/20 will be £20.56 million. This is taking into account the grants the Council gives to local organisations providing opportunities and support to families and the money spent by the Public Health department.
Does the Council need to save money on delivering Early Help?
This review is not budget-led and there is no savings target associated with it.
However, we know we have to identify savings wherever we can responsibly make them as we redesign our Early Help offer. In the current funding climate, we need to ensure we have a long term model of Early Help that is financially sustainable in the face of ongoing Government cuts and short term funding commitments.
It is because we value these services and recognise the important role they play that we want to take a considered, evidence-led approach, listening to the experience of residents, to ensure we have an effective Early Help model that best meets local need within an increasingly challenging financial environment.
Who is the Council engaging?
During the first round of engagement for the project, the Council will invite everyone in the borough with experience of and connection to Early Help to have their say. As well as having 1:1 or small group conversations with residents who have used our Early Help services, Early Help practitioners and other key stakeholders, we will be running an online survey and deliberative workshop through which the wider community can feed into the review.
We will also be revisiting feedback from past consultations, such as the recent Children’s Centres Engagement and looking at findings from initiatives like the Hackney Wick Through Young Eyes report and Hackney Young Futures Commission to enrich our understanding of the main priorities and concerns for families and young people in Hackney and the kind of Council support they value.
What changes do you expect to make?
We cannot say a lot at this stage about what we expect our Early Help offer to look like at the end of the review as this will depend on what the data, evidence and stakeholder engagement tells us. We hope to have a sound idea of what kind of Early Help is needed in Hackney once we have spoken to families, young people, and those supporting them about their experiences and needs and once we have a fuller picture of what is already working here and elsewhere.
What we can say, however, is that we are committed to improving how we engage and work with partners and with our communities to provide Early Help in Hackney, committed to providing easier, quicker access to Early Help in the future and committed to providing the types of support that have the most impact.