A new model for providing support services for children and families could see Northamptonshire’s children centres developed as early help specialists, with some current mainstream services being provided by the county’s libraries.
Northamptonshire County Council has been changing the way it supports families by putting more emphasis on early help and prevention services with the aim of helping families as their problems arise.
The council says this aim of this approach is to ensure that a family’s difficulties are addressed quickly, so their needs do not escalate to the point where they have to access specialist services such as social care, the criminal justice system or acute health services.
The authority is now proposing to enhance the universal element of children centre services through libraries, “to enable greater access for those services that are routinely used by all children and families.”
The proposed model, which will be discussed at meeting of the council’s cabinet tomorrow, would see the council commission new contracts for children’s centres, with an emphasis on helping those families who need extra support. The LibraryPlus service would enhance its existing services for under five year olds and families to incorporate information and advice; registration services; activities for children and recruitment of volunteers for children’s centres services.
Councillor Catherine Boardman (Con, Brixworth), cabinet member for children and education, said: “We are rebuilding and remodelling the support we give to children and families in Northamptonshire.
“Although this work was started before this year’s inspection of services for child protection, the inadequate Ofsted report means there’s an added imperative to get this right. We need to ensure we’re making children safer by getting the right help to the right families at the right time.
“Our libraries already do a great deal of work that impacts positively on children and young people, including homework clubs, rhymetime sessions, and reading initiatives.
“They also provide advice and information for job seekers, small company start-ups, and social enterprises. The proposals would see them build on those excellent services to further support children and families in their own communities.
“Meanwhile, our children’s centres would then be able to really focus on the early help and prevention services that will make all the difference to families experiencing the onset of challenges or problems.”