Family hubs are to be set up across Greater Manchester as part of a £302m government scheme aimed at boosting the life chances of disadvantaged children.
Bolton, Manchester and Oldham are among 75 towns and cities to share in the cash, together with Rochdale, Salford and Tameside.
The hubs will give parents advice on how to take care of their child, making sure they are safe and healthy and providing services such as breastfeeding support.
Eligible areas will also share £100m targeted at bespoke parent-infant services and extra mental health support during the first few years of a child’s life.
Early intervention is proven to improve children’s mental health and life outcomes, making the investment an important step towards ensuring all youngsters get the best start.
Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “Being part of a stable, loving family gives a child an early advantage, which is why we are investing so significantly in helping every family to access the vital services that help them and their children thrive.
“Evidence shows that some of the most disadvantaged families don’t access vital services. Family Hubs offer localised early help and intervention, from early years support to parenting classes, all of which can make a transformative difference in the lives of parents and carers who may not have a support network.”
Chris Clarkson MP, whose Heywood and Middleton constituency is in Rochdale borough, has welcomed the news.
“It is vital that families across England have access to the same high quality services to support them and their children’s development, wherever they live,” he said. “By ensuring vulnerable families and young people leaving care can access key support services in one place, we are helping to end the postcode lottery that too many of them face as we build back fairer.”
The £302m for the Family Hubs and Start for Life programme includes:
- £100m for bespoke parent-infant relationship and perinatal [from pregnancy up to a year after giving birth] mental health support,
- £82m to create a network of Family Hubs, improving access to a wide range of integrated support services for families with children aged 0-19,
- £50m to establish breastfeeding support services,
- £50m to fund evidence-based parenting programmes,
- £10m to support local authorities to publish a clear ‘Start for Life offer,’ and
- A further £10m to trial innovative start for life workforce models.
The package also includes £10m to enable five local authorities to trial and evaluate innovative workforce models, investing in developing the modern, skilled workforce that we need to support babies and families.
The 75 local authorities eligible for Family Hubs will now be contacted and provided with further details on next steps.