Agenda item

Family Support In-House Transfer

In April 2021 Early Help and Early Years staff and services within Family Support returned to Children’s Services Education and Children and Young People’s department. This has provided an exciting opportunity to build on the award-winning success of Family Support to ensure H&F is the best place for children and young people to grow up, allowing us to enhance our early intervention offer through joint working and integration to support families earlier.



Amana Gordon (Operational Director, Children and Young Peoples Service) introduced the item on the transfer of Early Help and Early Years staff and services within Family Support to Children’s Services Education and Children and Young People’s department.She noted that some areas for improvement had been identified, particularly around data collection, and officers had been working with the Performance and improvement and Business Intelligence teams to ensure officers had access to high quality data and quality indicators.


Councillor Lucy Richardson asked if there had been training for Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) on Special Educational Needs Inclusion Funding to improve the low take up.


Satwinder Saraon (Strategic Lead for Early Years and SEND Transformation) said officers had spoken with SENCOs about why take up was low and had held webinars to go through the process and regularly review it to ensure take up was sufficient.


Councillor Richardson asked if Early Help and Early Years were now part of Family Support. Jacqui McShannon (Director of Children’s Services) said Family Support incorporated several services including Early Years and Early Help. Now all those services were back in the Council’s Children’s Services department and more tightly integrated.


Councillor Richardson asked for clarity around the traded offer referenced in the report.

Jacqui McShannon said it allowed schools to purchase an enhanced offer, e.g. additional Early Help practitioner support. Satwinder Saraon noted that all schools had access to specialist teachers across areas such as behaviour, speech and language, autism etc.


Councillor Richardson asked if officers were planning to have a data dashboard providing comparisons with other London boroughs and the London average. Jacqui McShannon noted Children’s Services had invested a lot in the last two years around data for front door services to monitor their performance – and they were planning the same for Early Help.


Councillor Asif Siddique asked how the Council was communicating this change to parents – particularly the roughly 20 percent of families where English was not their first language. He also asked if there was a mechanism for families to provide feedback to the service. Satwinder Saraon said a number of Children’s Centre sessions were translated. Officers also reached out to key stakeholders like childminders and community leaders about offers and children’s centre sessions. It was an area that officers were monitoring and looking at ways of improving. The Council also had the Family Information Service which provided information on services and was translated into a wide range of languages.


Councillor Mark Loveday asked why these services were not brought back into the Council’s control earlier. Jacqui McShannon said the original idea was to bring services together in an innovative way, but it was never fully realised. The landscape had changed and it was decided to bring them back in-house.


Councillor Loveday noted that there were no benchmarks for the Committee to measure future performance against and asked if officers had a list of key performance indicators (KPIs) for the service. Jacqui McShannon said the service leads had a clear plan of action and areas for improvement, including qualitative data from audits. Councillor Loveday said it would be helpful for the Committee to see a clear set of KPIs. Jacqui McShannon said there would be further reports where performance can be tracked across a number of areas.


Nandini Ganesh asked if there was additional funding for nurseries where children with special needs were identified. She said Parentsactive came across a number of families where children were not accepted due additional needs. Satwinder Saraon said funding was available to all settings for children under 5 with emerging needs (including pre-diagnosis).


Nandini Ganesh made a general point that the group of services, as presented to the committee, was not that clear. She asked that future papers focussed on individual programmes, including statistics and its impact.


Councillor Mercy Umeh asked for clarification on the additional community support for families. Jacqui McShannon said it was a ‘step down’ service so that families finishing work with Early Help didn’t experience a ‘cliff edge’ where support dropped away completely.



That the Committee noted and commented on the report.


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