The City of Wolverhampton Council welcomed the Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing and members of the Children’s Social Care National Implementation Board to the city yesterday (Thursday 25 January, 2024), after it was picked as one of 3 areas in England to deliver the new Families First for Children programme.

As a ‘pathfinder’, the council and its partners are testing ways to reform the children’s social care system, helping children to stay with their families in safe and loving homes, whilst protecting vulnerable children where and when needed.

The programme aims to ensure help and support is available for families at the earliest opportunity to enable them to stay together where possible.

During their time in Wolverhampton, Minister David Johnston, National Implementation Board members and officials from the Department for Education visited Graiseley Family Hub, one of the 8 new family hubs in the city.

There, they met with staff and service users to gain an insight into how the pathfinder will build on existing provision and services to have a positive impact on families in Wolverhampton. They then travelled to the Civic Centre where they held a regular meeting of the National Implementation Board.

Councillor Chris Burden, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "We and our partners want to create a social care system which helps our children and young people thrive and gives them the best possible start in life.

“We were delighted to have been asked to become a Families First for Children pathfinder and to test a series of proposed reforms which should help bring about the significant developments we, and families, want to see. 

"The Department for Education suggested visiting Wolverhampton as it felt our existing model is already close to the proposed reforms.

"Any changes we, as a local system, are able to make which will further enhance the services we provide to our children, young people and families will be very welcome, and so we were pleased to host Minister Johnson and colleagues from the National Implementation Board and the Department of Education to showcase what works well, and to share plans on what could be done differently.”

Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, David Johnston said: “It was a pleasure to be in Wolverhampton meeting the Graiseley Family Hub team, who are doing excellent work supporting local families with services ranging from infant feeding to help with housing and employment. Their dedication to supporting local people shone through. 

"Our Children's Social Care National Implementation Board meeting in Wolverhampton was very productive, and we discussed how we are delivering our ambitious reform plans for children's social care and laying the foundations for long term change for some of our most vulnerable young people."

The Families First for Children programme forms part of the Government’s wide ranging children’s social care implementation strategy, Stable Homes, Built on Love, which will transform the current system, focusing on more early support for families, reducing the need for crisis response at a later stage. 

It will help develop the best practice models for the entire children’s social care system that can then be rolled out across the country. 

The National Implementation Board is a senior board responsible for advising on the children’s social care reform programme and includes key local leaders, individuals with lived experience, the Chief Inspector at Ofsted, the Chief Social Care Worker for Children and Families, and the Children’s Commissioner.