Cabinet to decide how community services will ensure all families can access the support they need

Tow adults and a child walking along a path holding hands

A decision on how people across Kent will access community services they need in the right way, in the right place and at the right time will be taken by Kent County Council's (KCC’s) Cabinet at the end of this month.

To ensure the services are run as efficiently, effectively and sustainably as possible, proposals put forward in two public consultations earlier this year looked at co-location of facilities, more flexible outreach activities, and reducing the number of permanent buildings to balance the needs of residents in Kent against the need to reduce costs and reduce the carbon footprint.

As part of these changes, a DfE grant of around £11m will be used to support KCC’s Family Hub transformation and will ensure all parents and carers can access the support they need, when they need it.

Together with the consultation feedback on where community services are most vital to residents, the Family Hub funding presents a real opportunity for KCC to improve health and education outcomes for all.

Sue Chandler, KCC Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services, said: “We understand how much residents value our community services, and the changes ahead will mean that these services are where they most need to be, having the most positive impact and reaching people in the most effective way.

“We have used all of our knowledge and experience, combined with feedback from two public consultations, to ensure that we continue to deliver excellent community services, focussing on the most vulnerable people and providing access to services in an innovative variety of ways.

“We can do this while at the same time scaling down the number of buildings from which we operate our services, to provide a more sustainable estate for the future.”

The proposals are based on a needs framework, which looks at demand for KCC’s services across the county, and usage figures for every service. By looking at the needs in every area, KCC can protect services for its most vulnerable communities, while still providing a choice of service access options across the whole county.

Community outreach is a vital element of the Family Hub model. Both the Kent Communities Project and the Family Hub proposals include a recommendation to co-design the outreach offer with partners, including children, young people and their families, District Councils, and other existing forums, to ensure a collaborative understanding and approach to community outreach.

An online offer will provide further, more coordinated, digital Family Hub resources for all parents, carers, young people and KCC’s own workforce, and be accessible universally across Kent.

Residents were also consulted on a proposal to not renew contracts for discretionary commissioned youth services when they end in 2024. This would bring Kent in line with the national picture and help to address the current requirements of KCC’s financial recovery strategy.

KCC is committed to continuing to run its youth provision, through a mix of activity at Family Hub buildings and outreach locations, based on the needs of young people within each district.

Options, based on the consultation feedback received, will be discussed with Members ahead of a Cabinet meeting on the 30 November, where the final coordinated decision will be made.

Note for editors

The Family Hub proposals will be discussed at the Children, Young People and Education Cabinet Committee (CYPE) on 21 November. The Community Services options will be discussed at the Policy and Resources Cabinet Committee on 22 November. And the coordinated decision between Community Services and Family Hubs will be made at a Cabinet meeting on 30 November.

Details of the meetings and the publication of papers are as follows: