Vulnerable children and families across West Sussex will see an enhancement to the support available to them. Following a ten-week public consultation West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet unanimously approved the redesign of the Early Help service on 27th July.
The Early Help service provides support to children and families who are facing any number of challenging circumstances, working to ensure every child has a safe environment in which to thrive.
The proposals approved by Cabinet will:
- Maintain Early Help services from 12 of the 43 Children & Family Centre buildings; maintaining at least one centre in each district and borough of West Sussex
- Increase the support and focused response to vulnerable children
- Ensure families have access to the most appropriate support, including closer working with schools
- Protect a full-time drop-in service for young people in each district and borough by merging our 12 Find It Out (youth) Centres with our 12 remaining Children and Family Centres
- Increase the ‘Find it Out’ offer to young people allowing for daily appointments at a location to suit the young person
- Ensure Early Help continues to offer some specific group work when there is an identified need
- Support community groups to deliver in the remaining centre
- Ensure dedicated staffing in Children and Family Centres to publicise services so people know how to get the support they need
These proposals were also reviewed by the Children and Young People’s Services Scrutiny Committee prior to the Cabinet decision.
Jacquie Russell, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Demand on our Early Help services has been increasing since before the pandemic with requests now at record high levels. The redesign will see the current service model shift away from being centre based and becoming more flexible and able to maximise the use of its resources out in the community to reach our most vulnerable children, young people and families.
“In terms of next steps we will work with our staff, partners and families who use our Early Help service to develop a detailed communication and engagement plan so West Sussex residents are well informed about how they can access the support they need in the future.”
We are in discussion with providers who offer services from the buildings affected by these changes to look to support them to continue to deliver these services.
A consultation with Early Help staff affected by the changes is scheduled to take place from September 2021. The Early Help service redesign is expected to be fully implemented in December 2021.