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Children, Culture & Communities Scrutiny Committee

7 November 2023


Report of the Corporate Director of Children and Education and Director of Customer & Communities


Raise York – Family Hub Network Development Update


1.      This report provides an update on the development of a Family Hub Network in York. This builds upon the report shared with the Children, Education and Communities Policy and Scrutiny Committee in December 2022.


2.           The term ‘Family Hub’ has been used in many different ways across the country for years without any clear definition. Each Family Hub model is unique to its local area.

3.           In summary a family hub is a system-wide model of providing high-quality, whole-family, joined up family support services.

4.           Family hubs deliver these family support services from pregnancy, through the child’s early years and later childhood, and into early adulthood until they reach the age of 19 (or up to 25 for young people with special educational needs and disabilities).

5.           In recent years the Department for Education (DfE) has evaluated Family Hub models across the country. They have developed non-statutory guidance to try and describe key expectations of an effective Family Hub model (Family Hubs Model Framework, Service Expectations).




6.           Locally we have reviewed these expectations and developed the summary below to show the key features of a Family Hub model.

7.           In May 2022 we successfully secured £997,000 of one-off funding from the Department for Education (DfE) to develop our Family Hubs model. As this is one off funding it can only be used to transform our local systems for children, young people, and families. This funding is made up of £167,000 of capital funding and £830,000 of revenue funding.

8.           The funded transformation period runs from May 2022 to September 2024. After this time the council and its partners should continue to develop and deliver a Family Hub Network using existing resources.

9.           The successful delivery of the Family Hubs network requires the sustained commitment of the local authority, partners, and communities beyond the funded transformation period.

York’s Transformation Journey so far

10.        A multi-agency project team and project board has been in place from the beginning of our transformation journey. Whilst the council is expected to be a lead partner, we have always recognised that for this model to work it takes all partners from across the city to make it a success. The project team have delivered a number of stakeholder sessions across the city and facilitated workshops focussing on different priority themes (e.g., early years, coordinating support through schools, engagement and attendance at schools, youth work, parenting etc).

11.        As well as creating a multi-agency project team we have taken a strong focus on co-production with children, young people, families and communities. This has been crucial in developing the model with those who will be using Family Hubs most. The work to engage communities is covered in more detail in the consultation section.

12.        We have now reached a stage of having a proposed model for Family Hubs in York. We are currently piloting key features of this model ahead of rolling it out fully in 2024.

13.        The transformation money we have secured is one-off funding. This has meant throughout the development of Family Hubs our focus has been on how to sustain the offer through existing resources. It is important to be clear that Family Hubs will not create a large range of new services.

14.        York already has many components needed to successfully deliver a Family Hub network and the focus of the current transformation is how to better connect existing services and resources in a way that delivers the best possible outcomes for families.

15.        Through co-production with children, young people, families and practitioners it has been decided to name the network "Raise York" with the strapline "Your Family Hub Network". The logo below has been developed with families and reflects a sense of place (map pin) as well as supporting people (the person at the centre of the map pin surrounded by the relationships and support they need to thrive).

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16.        Working with families we have developed the following 'golden circle messaging' to explain in simple terms what Raise York is all about.

i.          Why - We believe that all children and young people in York deserve the best start and the chance to thrive. Every family, child and young person should be able to get help, information and support at the right time and place. They should be able to reach their full potential and lead healthy, happy lives.

ii.        How - Families and communities help provide a foundation for children and young people to grow, develop and feel safe. Raise York brings together children; young people; families; communities and professionals so everyone can get the connections, help and support they want and need.

iii.      What - Raise York is a network of people, places and online support. It supports children, young people and families from pregnancy to adulthood. You can expect a warm welcome in your local community and to be guided to the right support for you.

17.        A key question posed by families and professionals is ‘how much of this is new’? The simple answer to that question is that much of this is familiar and has been the ambition of those working with families for years. In the past initiatives may have had different names or different priorities. The golden thread that runs through Raise York is not new – if we work together, with families, develop supportive communities and relationships around families, then we will achieve better outcomes and reduce the need for intrusive, complex and high need interventions.

18.        In developing a Raise York Network we have an opportunity to make a step change in how York works with families. To tackle silo working, to stop families being drawn into a complex system of being referred from agency to agency, to reduce how long workers spend ‘feeding the beast’ of paperwork and systems and to spend more time building trusting relationships with families and other professionals.

Where are Raise York Family Hubs being piloted?

19.        The project team has worked with families and stakeholders to review  assets across the city to identify where Raise York Family Hubs could be located. In developing potential locations we have been informed by understanding where need is most concentrated in the city as well as building on existing community assets.

20.        We have identified the following sites to pilot the Raise York Family Hub Network.

i.          Hob Moor Children’s Centre

ii.         Clifton Children’s Centre

iii.       The Avenue’s Children’s Centre

iv.       York Explore

v.        Acomb Explore

vi.       Clifton Explore (from Autumn 2024)

vii.     Tang Hall Explore

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21.        We have had positive engagement with the three schools attached to Children’s Centre sites about the development of Raise York. In particular exploring the opportunities to work more closely with schools to better support families.


22.        In 2022 it was announced that Tang Hall Primary School has been prioritised as part of the Governments School Rebuilding Programme. We are working closely with the school and the national School Rebuilding Programme to ensure that any works at this site deliver the best possible solutions for the school and a Family Hub for the community.

23.        Proposals for the Tang Hall site have not yet been finalised, but we anticipate that reconfiguring the Children’s Centre site alongside the school works will take a significant proportion of the £167k of capital costs awarded through the Family Hubs Transformation Grant.

24.        It is proposed that any remaining capital funds are used to improve the access arrangements to current children’s centre sites for both families and professionals. We want to improve the experience of families walking into these buildings, and also allow for more flexible office space for staff working in communities.

25.        The partnership work with Explore York Libraries and Archives (Explore) is an exciting development that presents a number of opportunities.

i.          Explore sites are geographically close to areas of need.

ii.         They are located at the heart of their communities and operate on extended schedules, including weekends and evenings, accommodating a wide range of individuals and groups.

iii.       They are trusted providers of information and advice.

iv.       They offer free digital access through public computers and free Wi-Fi.

26.        There is an existing contract held between City of York Council and Explore. We are working within the expectations of that existing contract and developing how to better support families accessing information and support through Explore sites. More detail of this work is provided in this paper detailing the Raise York offer.

27.        We will evaluate the pilot with Explore to understand its benefits before any agreement for longer term use or extension of provision within these sites is agreed.


28.        It is important to note that the Raise York Family Hub network is city wide. Whilst the sites are located in areas of greatest identified need the model works through partners to reach all communities. This is shown visually below.


29.        Outreach – Many of the services that form the Family Hub Network already deliver ‘outreach’ into different communities around York. This includes in different wards, communities, and family homes.

30.        Network Partners – We are developing a scheme by which community venues can agree to a shared way of working and access to support. This means that the ways of working that underpin Raise York can be accessed in many more venues across York.

31.        Virtual Hub – This is explored more in the Raise York Offer section of this paper but provides city wide access to information advice and support by telephone, email and online.


Raise York Offer

32.        York is fortunate as a city to have a wide range of different community services across the city provided by many different organisations. The Raise York Network is not about creating lots of new services but getting services to change how they work to better meet family’s needs.

33.        Rather than just listing all of the different services that exist in the city this section will outline what how services are being driven to work differently through the development of Raise York.

34.        The image below summarises key strands of transformation work that have been developed or are planned through the Raise York Network.

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35.        Best start for life

i.          Raise York is working with partners to publish a ‘Best start to life’ offer. The offer include all services available locally for families during from conception to the age of 2.

ii.         The new Raise York website will house the most comprehensive and up to date information in relation to the local Start for Life offer housed within two areas: ‘Planning to have a child and pregnancy’ and ‘Babies and Young children’ the names of both of which have been tested out through co production work with families and recognising that ‘Start for Life’ is another bit of jargon that families won’t necessarily immediately identify with.

iii.       Within each of these sections of the website is a range of information about child development; services and support available and links to other local and national websites for further information.

iv.       Our physical version will be a 12-page booklet, designed with Raise York branding and sized to fit inside the ‘Red Book’ that families receive upon the birth of their child, and which holds important information about their child.

v.        The booklet has been written to be as accessible as possible to all parents/carers in York. The aim is to provide everyone with core information, signposting to further, more detailed information on the Raise York website where appropriate.

vi.       The Best Start for Life offer will be published in November 2023.

36.        High quality information and support

i.          Parenting Support – Families and stakeholders have played back to us that a priority is to develop how we support parents and in particular what programmes are in place to support parents. Through Raise York we are putting in place:

·               A clear offer of what programmes for parents are available in the city and how to access them.

·               Linking locally developed programmes with researchers to help build the evidence base of what works and improving their impact.

·               Developing the programme offer to ensure that all parents needs are met. In particular introducing a comprehensive universal online parenting offer accessible for all families in the city. This has been implemented in other parts of the country and give a good option alongside existing face-to-face programmes.

·               We expect to begin our revised programme of parenting support in January 2024.

ii.         Family Navigators – We can see in other parts of the country that existing Family Hubs have benefited from a Family Navigator role. The ideas is that families can walk into any Raise York Family Hub and speak with a trained Family Navigator who can provide straightforward information and advice. Crucially they work to support families to access support and move beyond signposting families. This way of working takes learning from other models we have seen work locally such as Local Area Coordination and Social Prescribing.

·               Family Navigators are currently being piloted making use of the Family Hubs Transformation Grant. Pilot sessions through children centre sites and community venues has been in place since July 2023. In November 2023 this will extend into the pilot activity with Explore.

iii.       Parent Champions - Through the Family Hubs network we are developing Parent Champions. This will bring a proven parent led scheme to York for the first time. At its heart is a network of parents providing advice and support to families across York. The scheme is run nationally by Coram Family and Childcare Trust and more details can be found here www.familyandchildcaretrust.org/parent-champions-national-network.

·               We have recruited our first round of Parent Champion volunteers and expect to launch the Parent Champion programme in York in February 2024.

iv.       Explore – We have been working closely with colleagues across Explore to move towards piloting these sites as Family Hubs. In particular linking to the information offer provided by Explore to the developing model of Family Navigators and Parent Champions.  During the pilot any child, young person or families can call into the Explore Centre at Acomb, Tang Hall or York, and be welcomed by friendly staff team who are there to help families with any questions they may have and where to go next for advice or support. All Explore Centres also host a wide range of different community groups and services across the week and staff can help families get online for free to access further support. Importantly, if families just need to sit and catch their breath over a drink before chatting to one of the Explore team members or a Family Navigator, Explore have cafes at each of their main centres, and lots of comfy spaces to sit and relax.

v.        Raise York Website – To support families and professionals to access information a brand-new Raise York website has been developed. We have been working with families in recent months to develop and update content for the new website. The Raise York website will be a partnership website but hosted by the same Content Management System used for the main council website. The Raise York website has been built alongside the redevelopment of the SEND Local Offer and the safeguarding partnership website. By moving to a single underlying system supporting these websites we are streamlining the capacity needed to maintain these sites.

·               The first phase of the Raise York website will be launched in November 2023. The second phase is focused on improving how families can search for local services online and is expected to launch in March 2024.

37.        Support for Young People

i.          Through co-production we have worked with young people to better understand their experience of living in York. This is driving the work across the development of the wider Raise York offer.

ii.         The lead of the regional Youth Work Unit has facilitated sessions with members of the youth work network across the city. These sessions explore what is working well and where there is the opportunity to improve and work differently.

iii.       Building on this work we will work with partners to develop a new Youth Strategy for the city. This will reshape how the city works to understand the needs to young people and how it responds. The expectation is to develop and launch the new Youth Strategy which will launch in April 2024.

38.        Changing how we work

i.          Integrated working (strategic to operational) – To deliver the system change we want to see we need to ensure it is understood and owned throughout our city. This ownership must be at all levels spanning from strategic leadership through to the operational front line in communities. We are currently working with the Anna Freud Centre (which hosts the National Centre for Family Hubs) to support us engage partners at all levels so that the model can come alive and will be sustained beyond the funded period. The diagram below shows how this work will drive understanding and ownership of Raise York throughout the city.

ii.    Supporting Families Advisors - We recognise the important role partners play in delivering early help. Partners have also fed back they want more support in delivering early help and leading Early Help Assessments. We have remodelled our Supporting Families team to better support partners. Supporting Families Advisors can provide practical advice and support to agencies across York undertaking early help. This includes training on use of early help tools, navigating what services are available and holding support surgeries in the city to bring together key agencies and drive working together.

·               The Supporting Families Advisors began to pilot the new model of supporting partners in July 2023. We expect in the 2023 Autumn term to reach out and engage more partners across early years and school settings.

·               In October 2023 we also began to pilot a ‘Team Around a School’ model. This brings key partners together around a school to understand the needs schools are identifying and managing on a daily basis and how agencies would work differently to better meet those needs.


iii.       An Integrated Workforce – We have identified key roles in the Raise York Family Hub network. Currently there is a very limited amount of multi-agency workforce development that takes place. This means each individual agency or service working is too often taking place in silos. As a first step we will introduce a multi-agency induction toolkit. This will ensure all key members of the workforce are supported to understand a common core of skills and knowledge and equipped to work together. The induction toolkit will be launched in February 2024.

iv.       Better use of data / Systems – Feedback from families and stakeholders showed a real opportunity to improve how we share data and how we use systems. Families often tell us they need to repeat their stories to multiple teams/services. We also know some systems used by workers could be improved and help them to be more effective and spend more time working with families, we are making use of the one-off Family Hubs Transformation Grant to invest in improving data and systems. In particular:

·               Working with NESTA to combine and analyse early years data from across the city;

·               Supporting the implementation of a new SEND Case Management System;

·               Developing our SingleView system to allow us to join up work with families;

·               Improving our systems that allow us to record early help and demonstrate the impact it makes.

39.        All of the changes delivered through the Family Hubs transformation must be able to be sustained through existing resources. The Family Hubs Project Team has mapped how all of the transformation detailed above can be mainstreamed into business as usual. It is important to recognise that the resources available in the city are not static. This is a dynamic system touching on many different partners not just the local authority. What Raise York along with the Children and Young People’s Plan should give us is a strategic framework to help partners make resourcing decisions. This can be where resources are reduced that those changes happen with an understanding of the impact of the rest of the system. Similarly, where there is opportunity for new investment that this can happen together with partners rather than agencies acting in isolation.

40.        Learning from the pilot activity of Raise York Family Hubs will be shared in 2024 along with recommendations for how a final model can be implemented locally within the existing resources of the city.

41.        From the outset of developing our Family Hubs model we have set out to work hand in hand with children, young people, and communities. We have used some of the transformation funding to develop a model of co-production. This has included putting place some dedicated capacity as well as funding a model of advisors with lived experience.
42.        We have built a diverse co-production team including mothers, fathers, caregivers, and young people with a wide range of experiences. We have team members who have had premature babies, children with learning differences or health conditions, and people who have experienced support systems in different cultures and countries.
43.        The feedback from over 325 people has started to shape how we develop the Raise York Family Hub model. We have reflected on all the feedback from our conversations and the co-production team and prioritised what was most important to people. We then took these priorities out to more community groups, talked to parents and caregivers at local parks, York’s Multi-Cultural Mela, young carers and York’s Traveller Trust, which helped us really understand which out of the priorities where most important across York’s wider population.

44.        Annex A provides some example visual case studies of the lived experience of families in York and why there is a need to change how we work.
45.        The following are the five key outcomes developed by parents, caregivers and young people and the suggestions made through the 

46.        The direct outcome of co-production can be seen in how the Raise York model is being developed locally. In addition to the broad outcomes listed above we have identified a number of detailed potential changes in how services work and how they work together. We have worked with our co-production team to prioritise these and are working with partners to protype solutions.


Council Plan


47.        One City, for all, the City of York Council's Council Plan (2023-2027), sets a strong ambition to increase opportunities for everyone living in York to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
48.        We are also finalising our new Children and Young People’s Plan (CYPP). This will be launched in 2024 and will set out the overarching ambition for all children and young people in the city over the coming years.
49.        A successful Raise York Family Hub Network for York will make a significant contribution to the council’s priorities for children, young people, and families. It will also be a key mechanism for delivering the aspirations set out in the developing Children and Young People’s Plan.
50.        There is no statutory requirement for the local authority or partners to deliver a Family Hubs model. However, Family Hubs are seen as integral to a number of key policy areas; The best start for life: a vision for the 1,001 critical days, Integrated Health Systems, Mental Health Support Teams (MHST), SEND review and Stable Homes Built on Love.

7.      Given there are no decisions to be made in relation to this paper there are no applicable implications to review. The Family Hubs Project Team and Project Board are working through all of the wider implications associated with the development of this model.

Risk Management


51.        The transformation programme for Family Hubs is being managed under the council’s All About Projects approach to project management. A Family Hubs Project Board is in place to ensure oversight of the project. Documentation including an up-to-date risk register is in place to ensure appropriate project controls and risk management is in place.
52.        To note and comment upon the development of a Raise York Family Hub Network and the pilots currently underway/in development.
53.        Reason: To support the successful development and implementation of a Raise York Family Hubs network.















Contact Details




Chief Officer Responsible for the report:


Niall McVicar

Head of Innovation and Children’s Champion

Martin Kelly

Corporate Director of Children and Education

Pauline Stuchfield

Director of Customer & Communities


Report Approved



25 October 2023


Wards Affected:  List wards or tick box to indicate all






For further information please contact the author of the report



Background Papers:




Annex A – Visual case studies generated through co-production.



CYPP – Children and Young People’s Plan

DfE - Department for Education

MHST – Mental Health Support Team

SEND – Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities.