Helping hand for families
A new family support service offering wide-ranging advice, help and information in Buckinghamshire has been launched by the county council.
The new Buckinghamshire Family Support Service will offer support, services and activities from a network of 16 new centres, spread across the county over three locality areas.
Importantly, the service will also provide more targeted, specially tailored help for families with more complex problems. Where needed, a lead family worker will create a team of professionals for families experiencing problems such as drug and alcohol misuse, money problems, mental health issues, domestic violence, or who may have children with poor school attendance or emerging additional needs.
The service aims to help these families to overcome problems before they get worse and reach crisis point – so that in the longer term they become more self-sufficient and lead happier, healthier lives. Families will be helped directly in their homes or other places where they are comfortable, such as libraries or community spaces, as well as being able to go to specific sessions at the family centres.
The 16 family centres will also offer a programme of activities for all Bucks families with children up to the age of 19 (or 25 for children with special educational needs or a disability (SEND).
Family centres are spread across the whole of Bucks, with three being ‘Family Centre Plus’ sites; Southcourt Family Centre Plus (Aylesbury), Mapledean Family Centre Plus (Wycombe) and Newtown Family Centre Plus (Chesham). These centres will offer drop in advice and support five days a week.
Timetables of activities on at the family centres can be seen online via the Buckinghamshire Family Information Service website (www.bucksfamilyinfo.org).
The service has comprehensive information on all aspects of family life, from activities, to childcare to SEND services and much more and is a valuable resource for all Buckinghamshire families.
Families with younger children up to five will be able to attend open sessions at their local family centre, as well as being able to use health services and drop-in clinics they already use.
Warren Whyte, Buckinghamshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: ‘The new Family Support Service integrates the general support we provide to local families with a more targeted approach for those who need a higher level of help from us.
‘It’s been essential for us to make these changes as previously we weren’t able to get help to families quickly and effectively enough when problems emerge – this has contributed to an increase in the numbers of children needing social care input.
‘Parents of young children will still be able to go to classes, see health visitors and access their usual services at their closest family centre, which will offer flexible opening hours and develop a wider range of activities than many of the children’s centres did previously. There will be open sessions at our family centres for any family with children of any age who would like a little extra guidance or support.
‘This new service is a key element of how we intend to reduce school exclusions and reduce the numbers of children needing social care involvement.’