Helping families find their way

Since my last blog, which you can read below, there have been some significant changes to the scope of this project – to explore and chart the services and groups on offer for young families in Letchworth. The most important of these for parents and families is that the age range of children we’re looking into as part of the project has expanded, from under-fives, we’re now encompassing all those aged 11 and under. This is to reflect the change that is taking place in Children’s Centres across the county, which are soon to become ‘Family Centres’, offering support to  families with children up to the age of 11. More information on these changes can be found using the following link:

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Families First Network Forum in Stevenage, an event organised by Herts County Council to bring together various organisations who play a role in Hertfordshire’s early intervention process. At this event I learned more about the changes that would be made to Children’s Centres. If you are a parent reading this, the main changes outlined were:

  • The age range served will expand from under-fives to under 12s.
  • Services for 6-11 year olds will be targeted towards those most at need.
  • Providers will be restructured and streamlined – Letchworth will now form part of the North Herts group, as opposed to Baldock and Letchworth previously.

Another exciting development is the chance for me to participate in developing and improving the Families First portal run by Hertfordshire County Council. This portal offers information on all services across Hertfordshire and attempts to streamline access to these by bringing it all into one place.  After speaking with representatives from the team overseeing this at HCC, it became obvious that there was great potential for this project to contribute to the Families First platform. It will help Herts County Council in continuing to develop and expand the services offered to families, as well as making it easier for professionals to refer families or even engage with each other. This has given my project a renewed purpose and makes it even more important to hear as many views as possible, as the contributions from users and providers in Letchworth will be instrumental in the process.

This week I have begun to map out the services available for families in Letchworth, by engaging with the providers of these services. In the coming weeks we will be meeting to discuss their concerns and ideas for better integrated services in Letchworth. Alongside this, a survey will be sent to parents, guardians and service users to help us gain an understanding of their experience of the current system and their ideas for improvements. In my next blog I will attach a link to this questionnaire for users of services to access and give their opinion of how things currently operate. It will only take 5-10minutes and all feedback will be very useful. All of these stages will feed into my understanding of the services on offer and the system which currently exists in Letchworth, which can in turn be used to streamline the way services operate and to shape the role which the Heritage Foundation can play.

Over the next couple of weeks, as I begin to engage with service providers and users, the project should pick up pace and we will be able to better identify the current level of service provision in Letchworth Garden City. Therefore, as I said earlier, I can’t encourage people enough to get involved with this process and make sure your views are heard.