Barnsley Council’s Cabinet members will be given an overview of the first six months of operation of the Family Centre service (1 April to 30 September 2016) at their next meeting on Wednesday, 2 November. 

In September 2015 Cabinet members considered a report on the reconfiguration of children’s centres into a new network of family centres, providing a new model of early help for families with children from pre birth up to the age of 19 (or 25 if the young person has a disability) with effect from 1 April 2016.

The objective of this transformation was to build upon the long standing quality of the borough’s early help and early years provision, by enabling children to obtain a good start in life and to target help towards disadvantaged and vulnerable families so their children can have every opportunity to improve a range of outcomes, including their health and educational achievement.

The overview report sets out the good level of progress which has been achieved, during the six months since the introduction of the new model and network. In particular, Cabinet members will be asked to note the following:

  • The range of early help holistic support provided through the network, including strengthened whole family support across the expanded age range, from pre-birth to 19 years old (25 years if the young person has a disability)
  • The effectiveness of co-located, integrated and jointly delivered services with partner organisations, together with the level of engagement with families in helping shape provision in their area(s).
  • The effective co-ordination, at borough-wide level, of early help assessments.
  • An increase in early help support from Family Centres and multi-agency partners
  • Single pathway to access early help support through Family Centres and Early Help Assessments
  • Sufficiency of early years and childcare provision continues to be achieved and remains at a higher quality than the national average.
  • Services continue to be accessible across Barnsley through a range of centres and community venues

The report shows that the re-modelled service has strengthened and expanded Barnsley’s early help offer, including targeted group provision and one-to-one support for families in need of extra help while, at the same time, achieving the £2.5 million worth of savings targeted over a two year period from April 2016.

A key part of the progress made by the new model has been the commitment of staff who, including through a programme of workforce development, have forged good relationships with families as part of ensuring such families and their children get the help they deserve in order to live enriching lives.

Cllr Tim Cheetham, Cabinet Spokesperson for People (Achieving Potential) said: “The progress made through Barnsley’s new model of early help provision through the network of family and outreach centres is a success story which we should all be proud of.

“I am sure other areas in the country will sit up, take notice and want to learn from our experience so far and I commend the Executive Director, Service Director, Head of Service, together with all managers and staff for their contribution in creating such a service.”

The report can be read in full here