Share views on family services

FAMILIES and groups in need are urged to have their say on whether the right support is being offered to them.

They are invited to give their views at a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council's children's services scrutiny forum, which is currently carrying out a seven-month investigation into the issue.

Council chiefs want views on how support is offered to children and their families who have identified needs.

The meeting is on Tuesday, January 18, at 4.30pm, in Belle Vue Community, Sports and Youth Centre in Kendal Road, Hartlepool.

Both parents and their children are encouraged to attend and there will be three separate activity workshops at the event for the following age ranges: five-11; 12-16 and 17-plus.

The forum wants to hear their comments and suggestions for improvements to the quality of services offered through the likes of children's centres, the Children's Fund, Parenting Services and the advice teams working with primary and secondary schools.

Government research estimates that nationally about 140,000 of the 12.8 million families in England experience deep-seated problems which are often passed from generation to generation, despite help being provided by a large number of different organisations.

This support often does not succeed because it is poorly co-ordinated and does not take into account the wider family problems which lie at the root of the issues experienced by individual children or adults.

In November last year the Government announced the Think Family programme, which aims to ensure that every specialist who provides support to a family is able to provide the right help at the right

time.

Hartlepool Borough Council is one of the authorities selected to pioneer this new programme.

It's aims include identifying families most at risk so that comprehensive support can be provided as soon as possible, including strengthening the ability of families to provide care and support to each other.

Councillor Chris Simmons, chairman of the children's services scrutiny forum, said: "I hope that families which have experience of the services offered by the council and its partner organisations will take this opportunity to come and share those experiences, good or bad, with the forum so that our investigation can reflect all views.

"Everyone who wants to make a contribution will be welcome."

For more information about the work of the council's scrutiny forums, visit the council's website at www.hartlepool.gov.uk/scrutiny, or contact scrutiny support officer Laura Stones on (01429) 523087.