Families First News

Front page - Welcome

St Albans Families First Event

We’re in the process of putting together a Families First event in St Albans. The event is aimed at practitioners to provide an opportunity to network, hear about Families First and the local services in this area.

A copy of the flyer promoting the event can be downloaded for you to share with your networks.

Key Information:

  1. FORMAT: ‘Drop in’ event
  2. DATE: Friday 25 January 2019
  3. TIME: 1.30am – 4.30pm
  4. VENUE: St Albans City & District offices, Saint Peter's Street, St Albans, AL1 3JE

If you would like to host a stall at this event please email your name and description of service.

To book your place to attend this event as a delegate please register here:  Eventbrite - St Albans Event.  (You can also book via the flyer)

Please include in your newsletters and promote where possible to give this event maximum exposure.


The latest news

Hertfordshire's Plan for Children and Young People 2018-21 now available

Children\'s plan

Hertfordshire’s Plan for Children and Young People 2018-21 is now available and outlines our priorities for children, young people and their families.

The plan supports our vision to give every child, young person and their family the opportunity to live happy and fulfilling lives. It shares the top priorities for the Outcome Bees of Be Safe, Be Healthy, Be Ambitious, Be Independent and Be Resilient and provides just a few examples of the work we undertake to meet the needs of families and improve outcomes for all children and young people.

Please take time to read more about our priorities at Hertfordshire's plan for children and young people 2018-21, where you can also access videos of young people and staff talking about the difference that our services make.



0-25 Together's Promise to Families

Hertfordshire’s Professional Promise is our commitment to working in a person centred and transparent way, as is outlined in the SEND Code of Practice

It was produced together with young people, families and professionals and builds upon the standards that already exist.

The Professional Promise provides a set of standards that everyone should strive to achieve. Having this in place will mean that professionals will know how families want to be worked with and families will be confident to challenge professionals.

Our promise means that we will:

  • be honest about what can be achieved
  • aim to get it right first time and continue to learn from our experiences to inform changes
  • have the skills to do the job or sign post elsewhere when needed
  • work together in an open and honest way
  • ensure the views of the child and young person and family will be at the centre of everything we do
  • recognise the strengths and abilities of children, young people and young adults and we will build on these
  • communicate clearly and appropriately and in the way that children and young people choose
  • work together towards positive solutions and outcomes

All professionals working in SEND children’s services such as the 0-25 Together team, Integrated Services for Learning team etc. will work in this way.

Read the full Professionals Promise here.

Transforming Children’s Services Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) support and services

In August 2018, Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet approved a business case for Prevention Invest to Transform funding.  This brought an investment of approximately £3 million over two years in order to transform Children’s Services Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) support and services.

Three priority areas for transformation were identified:

  • Development of local multi-disciplinary teams and community support networks
  • Maximisation of the benefits of digital technology
  • Improved access to independent living, employment and training for young people with SEND. The latter, preparing our young people for adulthood, will of course include the involvement of Adult Care Services in the research and mapping. The overall outcomes from the transformation programme will ensure services for children and young people with SEND and their families provide effective and timely intervention, manage the increasing demand and complexity of needs, and make efficient use of resources. 

The ‘understand’ (research and mapping) phase of the programme began on 1st September and is being led by Family Services Commissioning.  

If you have any thoughts/questions about the SEND transformation programme, we would love to hear from you. Please email sendtransformation@hertfordshire.gov.uk


Home Office Issues County Lines Guidance

The Home Office have released Criminal Exploitation of children and vulnerable adults: County Lines guidance for frontline staff who work with children, young people and potentially vulnerable adults. This guidance intends to explain the nature of the harm caused by ‘County Lines’ activity, enabling practitioners to recognise its signs and respond appropriately so that potential victims can receive the support they need.


New Couple Counselling, Couples Mediation and Conflict Coaching Services

Available for parents in conflict across Hertfordshire

Families in conflict who are in need of more intensive support can now be referred by their Families First practitioner to free Couples Mediation, Couple Counselling or Conflict Coaching

To be eligible for a referral, families need to meet the following criteria:

  • Have a Families First Assessment in place or one planned.
  • Have one or more children under the age of 18 (under the age of 25 if the child/ren have special educational needs) or expecting a baby
  • Are resident in Hertfordshire
  • There is evidence that they are in conflict and that this conflict is impacting negatively on their children
  • Agree to engage with the service on a voluntary basis

Further details on the different services and how to refer can be found on the practitioners page

For further details on the new services and the referral process, please email EHCommissioning@hertfordshire.gov.uk


Better Relationships, Better Parenting Programme update

Better relationships 

Family Services Commissioning have been piloting a programme to reduce parental conflict since July 2016, using grant funding from the DWP. The Better Relationships, Better Parenting Programme aims to reduce parental conflict within families in receipt of Early Help in Hertfordshire, in order to improve outcomes for their children against the Outcome Bee’s Framework.

As the pilot period has now finished, we would like to say a big thank you for any involvement you may have had in the programme and to let you know what we have been up to.

Over the 2 year period of the pilot we have been busy providing: 

  • Training for Practitioners
  • A Practitioners Toolkit and web page www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/betterrelationships
  • Free Counselling and Mediation services for parents
  • An Ambassadors Programme
  • An information leaflet and web page for parents
  • The development of an Outcomes Star on relationships

Our Successes:

  • To date, 215 practitioners have been trained with 83% reporting that they felt more confident to support parents following the training
  • 146 Parents have been referred to Counselling and Mediation sessions with 97% of parents who completed, reporting that they felt their children had benefitted from it
  • Parent leaflets have been sent out to Childrens Centres, GP surgeries and Libraries. These can be given to parents or used as a tool when having those early conversations. Copies can be ordered by emailing fsc.team@hertfordshire.gov.uk
  • We have had  576 visits to the new web page for parents www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/parentrelationships to date which contains self-help information and advice
  • In order to continue to provide this vital service to support our Hertfordshire families, we will be working to develop and embed this work going forward through:
  • Parents Information leaflet and web page  www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/parentrelationships
  • Free Counselling and mediation service for parents, plus a new conflict coaching service
  • Launching the new relationship focused outcomes star
  • Exploring a new initiative providing Mediation Training to frontline professionals. If you would be interested in taking part, please email fsc.team@hertfordshire.gov.uk to register your interest.

Remember to keep an eye on our Better Relationships page to find out about the new Counselling, Mediation and Conflict Coaching services coming soon!

If you would like further information about the programme, please email fsc.team@hertfordshire.gov.uk

NEEDED: Family Lives Helpline Volunteers

Are you someone who can provide a non-judgemental listening ear? Interested in offering your support to others?

Exciting opportunity for Volunteer Call Takers Home or Office based 

We are looking for volunteers who have gained life skills through their own experiences, be it in their own family or a previous/current career. 

Using your current skills we offer excellent training to provide you with additional skills to offer emotional support and coping strategies for our caller.  

For more information about Volunteering with us or to request a Volunteer Application Pack, please email: Suebe@Familylives.org.uk


The training dates are Fridays, 9, 16, 23 & 30 November from 9.30 to 3pm

Family Centre Service Partnership Network meetings

Save the date

We are pleased to share the dates for the first Family Centre Service Partnership Network meetings in November 2018. If you have previously been involved with local Children’s Centre Advisory Boards / Partnership Networks or would be interested in learning more about Hertfordshire Family Centre Service, please do book a place.


Date Venue Time Eventbrite link Led by
North Herts Wednesday 28 November Oughton Family Centre, Hitchin 9.30am-11.30am https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/north-herts-family-centre-service-partnership-network-meeting-tickets-50953232490 Barnardo’s and HCT
Stevenage Tuesday 27 November Broadwater Family Centre, Stevenage 1pm-3pm https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/stevenage-family-centre-service-partnership-network-meeting-tickets-50953046935 Barnardo’s and HCT
East Herts Monday 26 November Beane Valley Family Centre, Watton-at-Stone 9am - 12.30pm https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/family-centre-service-partnership-network-meeting-26112018-tickets-50067961621 One YMCA and HCT
Welwyn and Hatfield Thursday 22 November Peartree Hostel, Welwyn Garden City 1pm - 4pm https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/family-centre-service-partnership-network-meeting-221118-tickets-50067796126 One YMCA and HCT
Broxbourne Tuesday 27 November High Trees Family Centre, Broxbourne 9am - 12.30pm https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/family-centre-service-partnership-network-meeting-271118-tickets-50068358809 One YMCA and HCT
Hertsmere Tuesday 20 November Allum Lane Community Centre, Elstree 9.30 – 12.00pm https://hertsmere.eventbrite.com InspireAll and HCT
Watford and Three Rivers Wednesday 21 November Stanborough Centre, Watford 9.30 – 12.00pm https://watfordandthreerivers.eventbrite.com InspireAll and HCT
Dacorum Thursday 22 November Warners End Community Centre, Hemel Hempstead 2pm – 4.30pm https://dacorum1.eventbrite.com InspireAll and HCT
St Albans Friday 23 November St Albans Civic Centre, St Albans 9.30 – 12.00pm https://stalbans1.eventbrite.com InspireAll and HCT

More information and news can be found on the current Family Centre Service Newsletter

Goodbye to A&I

Please be advised that as of December 2018, Action & Impact (A&I) Meetings will no longer be taking place. If you are undertaking a Families First Assessment, you will need to contact the Families First Partnerships Practice & Development Team in the first instance.

Growth Mindset

This Growth Mindset chart may be useful for practitioners for a strength based approach to work with children and young people

Being 18 in 2018

As the children of 2000 reach adulthood, find out how life has changed for 18-year-olds since the start of the millennium.

Multiple people, representing population

The Office for National Statistics has recently released the Being 18 in 2018 report.

Have your say in the Troubled Families Programme survey

The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) led Troubled Families Programme is a catalyst for early help service transformation. There is an opportunity, between now and the end of November, for front line workers to have their say about the Troubled Families Programme.

A survey for front line workers is being run by Ipsos MORI, an independent research organisation, on behalf of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The information you share will feed into the wider national evaluation of the Troubled Families Programme, which aims to understand how the Troubled Families Programme is currently working.

This survey is only for family intervention workers, keyworkers, leadworkers and practitioners; however, MHCLG  always welcome views from other staff. Please get in touch via knowledge hub (Khub) at https://khub.net/ if you have any views you would like to share.

To share your experience of delivering the Troubled Families Programme, please click on the following link: https://ipsos.uk/keyworkersurvey
(If the link above does not work, please copy and paste it into your internet browser).

The survey only takes 10-15 minutes to complete.

All the information collected will be kept confidential and individual results will not be passed on to local authorities or MHCLG. The findings will be used for research purposes only, and will feed into the wider national evaluation of the Troubled Families Programme. For more information, please see the Privacy Notice.

If you have any queries regarding the research or the Troubled Families Programme survey, please do not hesitate to contact us via families@ipsos-mori.com. If you would like to discuss the wider evaluation with MHCLG, please contact Thomas.griffiths@communities.gsi.gov.uk.

Thank you for your time.

Yours sincerely,

Emily Mason
Research Executive
Ipsos MORI

Thomas Griffiths
MHCLG Troubled Families Team

News from our Partners

We have created this page to link directly to some of our partners' newsletters which we feel may be of interest. Please visit the links below to read current news, events and updates from these services. You may also wish to subscribe to receive these direct. 


If your service has a newsletter which you would like to appear on this page please email: FamiliesFirst.Support@hertfordshire.gov.uk

Red January 2019

Whether it’s running 5k or walking to work a new way, a morning swim or taking your bike for a spin, you can join the thousands of people around the UK, kick-starting their 2019 in the most positive way. We look forward to going on the journey with you.

You can register here for free click here

Learning & development

Shadowing made simple!

FOR DOWNLOAD: FF WFD logo colour

Workforce Shadowing is an exciting opportunity to "spend a day in someone else’s shoes" and is open to the entire Families First partnership.

Accessing the Workforce Shadowing scheme has been simplified into 3 easy steps:

  1. Choose your shadowing opportunity from this list (on the Families First Portal)
  2. Simply send an email to FamiliesFirst.Shadowing@hertfordshire.gov.uk  copying in your manager to indicate their support of your application
  1. Get shadowing!

Could your service host shadowing?
If you would like to offer a shadowing opportunity within your organisation:

  1. Nominate a contact in your team
  2. Email Shadowing@hertfordshire.gov.uk and we will be in touch.

Supporting Links - Promoting Strong Family Relationships

Supporting Links are a Social Enterprise, providing parenting support through courses, workshops and 1:1 mentoring of parents and children throughout Hertfordshire and the surrounding area.

More information and their referral form can be found on the Supporting Links website.

We value the knowledge and experience that every parent brings and we aim to build on those skills to enable parents to feel more confident and positive about their own abilities. We can help you understand your child's behaviour and develop effective strategies that really work to improve behaviour and communication, and build the foundations for successful family relationships.

Difference we're making

ARC Services - Officially Outstanding


Following the full (2 day) Ofsted Inspections in August 2018, ARC Short Breaks maintained their Outstanding rating from last year and The Lakes Families Together Programme achieved their Outstanding, making the whole service officially Outstanding.

Both sites were reported to be achieving above and beyond in all areas:

How well children and young people are helped and protected

The effectiveness of leaders and Managers

The Overall experiences and progress of children and young people

As part of the inspections the Ofsted Inspector spoke to young people who were currently being supported by the service, their parents, ARC staff, professionals who support the service intensively i.e. Virtual Schools and other professionals who have young people accessing the service, the overall feedback was very positive.

One parent stated that the service has helped them to see ’light at the end of the tunnel’

A child’s sibling said that participating in the programme has ‘given me my brother back’.

A Social Worker described the change in one child and their family as ‘transformational’ and the child ‘is like a different child’. The Social Worker went on to say how amazed she was that the staff had managed, in such a short time, to engage with a very reluctant parent.

ARC staff described Managers as ‘positive role models and very supportive’.

Child quote- “before I was dark and empty after I worked with the ARC I was happy bright and cheerful”

A young person reflected – ‘when I first came to short breaks things seemed quite bleak and then I was given time with staff from the ARC who helped me and my family make changes. It took a while, but things are better for me now and I feel that the bleakness has gone and the sky is open and full of endless possibilities’

This is a great achievement for ARC Services and reflects the passion and commitment of the staff to support young people and their families to achieve their goals and thrive as a family again.



Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) and Healthy Children's Centre awards and celebration event


The achievements of Hertfordshire County Council’s Children’s Centres staff were recognised at the recent `Baby Friendly Initiative and Healthy Children’s Centre’ celebration event that took place at Mill Green Golf Course on Thursday 7 September 2018.

The event included the first BFI and Healthy Children’s Centre awards ceremony which highlighted the contribution, commitment and outstanding work that individuals and groups in Hertfordshire have made in response to these initiatives, which promote healthy lifestyle changes with families and responsive feeding for bottle and breast feeding.

Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Teresa Heritage said ‘It’s very reassuring that we have so much support in Hertfordshire to help new mums, at what can be a very vulnerable time. Our children’s centre teams do an amazing job and get really positive feedback, so it’s fantastic that their achievements and hard work is being recognised.’

The winners were as follows.

  • Baby Friendly Initiative Champion of the Year – Julia Lewis, Three Rivers West Children’s Centre Group and Rosie Cross, Hitchin and Rural Children’s Centre Group.
  • Baby Friendly Initiative Group of the Year – Stort Valley and Villages Children’s Centre Group.
  • Baby Friendly Initiative Improved Group of the Year – Hatfield Children’s Centre Group and Hertsmere East Children’s Centre Group.
  • Healthy Children’s Centre Lead of the Year – Emma Ashworth, Three Rivers West Children’s Centre Group.
  • Healthy Children’s Centre Group of the Year – Stevenage South Children’s Centre Group.
  • Healthy Children’s Centre Improved Group of the Year – Hertford and Villages Children’s Centre Group.

Following the success of this event, Hertfordshire County Council wish to hold the awards as an annual recognition event for staff.

Congratulations to all nominees and winners.

News from YC Herts

More than 900 young people experienced a summer of a lifetime and helped make a difference to their local communities with Hertfordshire County Council’s youth service, YC Hertfordshire.

The community-minded 16 and 17 year olds each completed a week of activities, a week-long residential stay which included skills building, followed by a social action project to benefit their local communities.

County Councillor Teresa Heritage, Deputy Leader of Hertfordshire County Council and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “It is fantastic to see so many Hertfordshire young people keen to make a difference to their local areas and gain a better understanding of what it is to be an active and enthusiastic member of their local community.


“The young people who have completed NCS have gained an enormous amount of knowledge and increased their self-confidence and resilience this summer. I hope that it stands them in good stead as they move towards independence and plan for their future.

“Young people have supported a huge number of local charities and community organisations, as well as generously donating their time to rejuvenate public spaces.

“Their contribution is greatly appreciated by communities across Hertfordshire.”

The programme that each of the young people completed included discussions on a range of subjects including mental health, careers, living independently and homelessness. They also learned vital new skills such as first aid and sign language.

The young people planned and organised a wide variety of social action projects across the county. These included:

  • Organising intergenerational events at residential homes for elderly people, incorporating a range of activities from quizzes, tea parties and music performances.
  • Helping out at local animal sanctuaries and providing hands-on help with the day to day care of the animals.
  • Completing gardening projects in local communal gardens, residential homes, hospitals and public spaces, including a public underpass.
  • Making over and refurbishing local community centres.
  • Producing videos to raise awareness of issues such as deaf awareness.
  • Collecting donations for local food banks.
  • Organising stalls to promote the awareness of issues which affect young people, such as mental health.
  • Organising and taking part in “Fit and Fed” projects for children who maybe hungry and/or isolated during the school holidays.
  • Helping create care packages for homeless people in support of a local homeless charity.


Young people who took part in the programme also gained a lot from the experience:

Hafsa, 16, said: “NCS is an opportunity to meet completely new people and step out of your comfort zone and learn a lot more than I thought I could ever learn. It teaches you responsibility and independence as you are away from your family.”

Mikey, 15, said: “I thought certain ways about certain things and NCS has broken down these stereotypes.”

Halle, 16, said: “It’s been a great experience and an important time to meet people of different cultures and religions.”

Niral, aged 16, said: “NCS pushed everyone out of their comfort zones. It was great to socialise, make friends and be part of a team.”

Tia, aged 16, said: “I am more independent and more mature because of my NCS experience. I have become my own person.”

Taran (16): “NCS has been great – a once in a lifetime opportunity! By completing our social action project I have become more confident and caring.”

Hilary (16): “Knowing that I have had an impact on the residents at Loughton Hall has boosted my self-esteem.”

Kassim, 16, said: “We have had to learn to work as a team and now feel really comfortable with each other.”

Jaival, 16, said: “I’ve learnt communication and leadership skills which are good for my CV.”

Ella, 16, said: “NCS has really motivated me to find a job.”

YC Hertfordshire finalists in prestigious youth work award


Leanne Clayton from YC Hertfordshire

(Leanne Clayton from the YC team)

YC Hertfordshire has been named as a finalist in the prestigious Children and Young People Now Awards, for its work with Who Not What – a group dedicated to giving a voice to young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning communities in Hertfordshire.

YC Hertfordshire helped to form the Who Not What group in 2014 which, for the last four years, has helped to inform and shape services for LGBTQ young people.

The service is one of nine nominees in the awards’ youth work category and the awards will be presented at a ceremony on 21st November in London.

The group of young people looks at services and education available throughout Hertfordshire and conducts regular consultations to hear the views and opinions of young LGBTQ people aged 11–25 who live, work or are educated in the county. It also works to raise awareness of issues that young LGBTQ face and the services available to support them.

The group meets every month with the support of youth workers and consults with young people in schools, youth groups and community groups on a wide range of LGBTQ issues. The feedback they receive is used to inform service development across the county and ensure that LGBTQ young people get the support they need.

Visit www.ychertordshire.org or www.youngprideinherts.org for more information.



40 Year's of Service!

Ian Marchant, former Team Leader for YCH Stevenage received an award for 40 year’s service to Local Authority on Monday 11th June 2018, at County Hall.  The award was presented by the Chair of the County Council Richard Thake and the Chief Executive John Wood, for inclusion in the next publication.


The Families First Portal

Quick Links to the Families First Portal

How can I add/manage a record for my Service?

Here are some quick links to the most popular sections of the Families First Portal... 


FF logo colour FF logo b&w FF WFD logo colour FF WFD logo b&w FF bullet point colour FF bullet point b&w FF logo extract colour FF logo extract b&w FF web icon colour FF web icon b&w

FF Prac leaflet Brand in a Box flyer  


Taylorfitch. Bringing Newsletters to life