Families First News

The latest news

Great News on Supporting Families Earned Autonomy

Great news – we are pleased to announce that Hertfordshire has been awarded Earned Autonomy status and is now part of only 14% local authorities in England who have successfully gone through this process.  

The current arrangements for Supporting Families funding is an upfront grant received in April and then further funding received quarterly based on successful outcomes for families we have supported (you may know this as payment by results).  

The process to achieve Earned Autonomy status started with a partnership self-assessment followed by a visit to Hertfordshire in October from a number of central government department lead advisors where we had the opportunity to demonstrate our strong partnership commitment, data arrangements, and outcomes achieved for children, young people and families.  

We have recently received notification that we were successful in achieving Earned Autonomy status. The benefits to Hertfordshire for achieving this status are:

  • having a national profile owing to the recognition that we have achieved a high standard of maturity for our early help partnership.
  • being one of a small number of areas that will have more of a say in guiding future national policy and in showcasing our approach as best practice.
  • receiving all our allocated funding upfront; whilst this is not additional money this will help improve our ability to plan for the next 12 months.

This achievement would not have happened without the fantastic commitment and motivation from professionals at all levels across Hertfordshire County Council Children’s Services and from all the partners we work with (including frontline, operational and strategic).   

We recognise that on the frontline across the partnership, you are all under immense pressure to support families in the best way you can and the evidence and paperwork you have provided regarding achieved outcomes with families has been pivotal in this success. This status recognises your help, contribution, and on-going support.  

We are all aware of the current financial outlook and whilst Earned Autonomy does ensure an agreed amount of funding for the supporting families agenda, we still need to contribute to the councils ongoing financial situation.  Receiving the grant at the start of the financial year will, however, provide us with the opportunity to plan for current and changing demands in an innovative and efficient way. 

For more information on the Supporting Families, please visit Supporting Families - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)



Turnaround Programme now delivering across Hertfordshire

What is Turnaround?

Turnaround is a Ministry of Justice funded programme for children and young people aged 10-17 years old on the cusp of entering the youth justice system. It aims to improve outcomes for children and young people by reducing the likelihood of further offending by providing support at the earliest point. 

The programme has been developed with the Supporting Families model of early intervention in mind and therefore takes a whole family approach with the following principles:

  • One Assessment – strengths-based
  • One Plan – evidence-based interventions and developed in collaboration
  • One Lead Practitioner – young people will be allocated with a dedicated Turnaround Intervention Worker who will work also work with the wider family.

A Turnaround Intervention Worker will be based in each of our 4 Specialist Adolescent Service Hertfordshire (SASH) area teams.

Who is eligible?

Children or young people, aged 10-17 years old, must have met one of the following in the last three months to meet eligibility for Turnaround.

  • Subject to No Further Action (NFA) decision
  • Interviewed under caution following arrest or subject to a criminal investigation attending a voluntary interview
  • Subject to a Community Resolution
  • Received a first-time youth caution (not a conditional caution)
  • Released Under Investigation (RUI) or subject to Pre-Charge Bail (PCB)
  • Discharged by a court
  • Acquitted at court
  • Fined by court
  • Those who have come to the notice of agencies with enforcement powers for repeated involvement in anti-social behaviour
  • Those involved in anti-social behaviour who have received:
  • Community Protection Warning/Notice (CPW/N)
  • Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC)
  • Civil Orders for ASB

 Turnaround does not require admission of guilt by a child referred and joining the programme is voluntary.

Who is not eligible for Turnaround?

The following children and young people are not currently eligible for Turnaround:

  • Those open on a Child Protection (CP) plan
  • Those open to Early Help (or awaiting a Families First assessment)
  • Child Looked After (CLA)
  • Child in Need (CiN)
  • Care Leaver
  • Those who have a current or have had a previous Youth Justice intervention (irrespective of time passed)

How do I refer?

Referrals must be made via the dedicated web form.

All referrals must have informed consent from the child/young person and their parent/carer at the point of referral. This can be verbal consent.

Further Information

You can find the referral form and other information, including an e-leaflet for young people and families being referred which explains more about Turnaround, on our dedicated webpage: Turnaround Programme | Hertfordshire County Council

If you have any questions about whether a young person is eligible or to arrange an informal joint visit, please contact a member of the team Turnaround@hertfordshire.gov.uk

Relationship Support - Courses for Parents & Carers

Family and Health Services Commissioning offer training, resources and courses for parents and carers to support the reduction of parental conflict and improve outcomes for children impacted by conflict.


Courses are for all Hertfordshire residents and include:

  • OnePlusOne’s digital interventions – 3 online courses aimed at new parents, intact parents and parents that are separated
  • Parenting When Separated – 6 week group based course for separated parents
  • Relationship support for parents and carers of children with SEND – 2 online courses delivered by Family Lives for separated and intact parents and carers of children with SEND
  • Stronger Relationships – 6 week online course delivered by the Race Equality Foundation to support separated and intact parents and carers, courses are also offered in other languages

Further details and how to refer can be found on Relationship support for parents | Hertfordshire County Council

Professionals Training

  • Training in OnePlusOne’s digital offer to support professionals to feel more confident to identify conflict and use the digital resources to support parents and carers improve their relationship quality.

If you would like to access this training for free please contact EHCommissioning@hertfordshire.gov.uk

Become a Safe Space volunteer mentor

Would you like to become a Safe Space volunteer mentor for young people in Hertfordshire and support them to overcome challenges, achieve their goals and reach their potential?


Safe Space provides mentoring for young people aged 11-19 (25 if they are care leavers or have a learning disability) who live or go to school/college in Hertfordshire. Mentors are given training before being matched with a young person who would benefit from 1:1 mentoring support to help them reach their potential

See more opportunities by Safe Space

Role of the mentor

As a volunteer mentor you would meet with your young person once a week for up to an hour, at a time and place in the community convenient to you both. Usually the mentoring relationship is for 6 months but can be longer or shorter depending on the need.

Following an initial 2 day training programme and required checks, volunteer mentors are matched with young people based on personality and interests but also by location.

As a volunteer mentor you would gain trust from the young person you are working with and provide valuable support in being able to help them work towards goals, overcome challenges, give advice or just provide a listening ear. (Minimum age 21)

You will be supported by a Mentoring Co-ordinator and ongoing training and support groups are provided.

Upcoming Training Dates:-

Cohort 1

Friday 24h Feb 10-4
Monday 27th Feb 5-7pm
Tuesday 28th February 5-7pm
Saturday 4th March 9-12.30

Cohort 2

Saturday 4th March 9-12.30
Friday 11th March 10-4
Saturday 12th March 10-12.30

If you are interested, please download an application form and send to mentoringmailbox@hertfordshire.gov.uk

Also any questions should be sent to mentoringmailbox@hertfordshire.gov.uk


Grants from £10,000 to £50,000 - applications NOW OPEN!

Hertfordshire County Council are offering grants for grassroots services in the County, who are supporting underrepresented groups, for whom traditional domestic abuse services are not suitable or accessible.

The ‘Hertfordshire Grassroots Grants Fund’ is being delivered in partnership with Hertfordshire Community Foundation, who are managing the funding on behalf of the County Council’s Strategic Partnerships Team.

Following a grant award, and upon delivery of specialist domestic abuse training where needed, services will be expected to provide domestic abuse support to those subjected to domestic abuse that access the service.

To be eligible, services must:

  • support a specific group of people or community.
  • address identified gaps in provision for those subjected to domestic abuse currently in Hertfordshire. This will include support for anyone from any of the community groups listed below:
  • Male
  • LGBTQ+
  • Older people (over 65)
  • Black or from other globally diverse communities
  • At risk of or experiencing multiple disadvantages
  • Refugees/asylum seekers
  • Those with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)
  • From the gypsy or traveller community
  • People with disabilities
  • People who are Neurodiverse
  • Other groups who do not access traditional domestic abuse services.

Organisations can bid for a maximum of £50,000 per year. Successful organisations will receive funding until the end of June 2025 with no need to reapply for the next year’s payment.

Applications close 7 March 2024. Find out more and apply!

HFL Education Spring term Online Safety Newsletters

We are pleased to share two new spring term 2024 Online Safety Newsletters. One for Parents & Carers and one for professionals.

Both newsletters feature a range of guidance, news, links and updates about online safety for all phases, with particular reference to the current situation, recent developments and concerns.

Our newsletter for staff includes reviews and details about:

  • Safer internet day 2024
  • Keeping children safe in education: funded webinar
  • CEOP – Childs Exploitation and Online Protection

Our newsletter for parents and carers includes reviews and details about:

  • Developing online safety skills together
  • EE mobile and Internet Matters

Both editions can be downloaded from the HFL website and the Grid.

If you’d like any more information please let me know or contact the Wellbeing team at wellbeing@hfleducation.org or visit Online safety in schools | HFL Education.

Drop in Groups for Hertfordshire families

This Spring we have lots of fun activities for families!

As the cost of living continues to rise, it helps that all our sessions are free and also drop-in. Run by professional, qualified staff in Early Years, our groups offer a wide range of activities for you and your children to enjoy and play together. They are an opportunity for you to meet other local families and get advice and support from the Family Centre team. As well as lots for under 5’s to enjoy! Our regular groups include.

  • Baby Group (babies to pre-walkers) - drop in and meet other families with young babies in a supportive, stimulating and friendly environment. This session is for babies to play and for you to discover more about their development and support your own wellbeing as a new parent.
  • Active Rhyme Time (Baby and Toddler) – a fun session including active rhymes and songs for you and your baby and toddler. The groups are a great way to meet other families and develop your child's communication and physical skills.
  • Physical Fun (18 months +) - join the team for a fun, active session. A way to meet other families and enjoy lots of fun games and play opportunities to support your child with their physical development.
  • Family Fun (18 months +) - fun sessions with a wide range of activities for you and your children to play together, meet other local families and the Family Centre team. As well as lots for Under 5's to enjoy, there will be activities for siblings up to the age of 8.

These groups run at different venues across Hertfordshire and you can drop into any of them, there is no need to book*. Family Support staff will be on hand to answer any questions that you may have and if you need any extra help, they can point you in the right direction. Find out details of sessions near you on our What’s On page.


*Please note that in Hertsmere, Physical Fun and Family Fun at 96 Shenley Road are bookable sessions.


Permission to play no matter your age as free events hit Herts

Modern life can be a serious business and, whether you’re eight or eighty, everyone needs some space and time to feel carefree. That’s why over 10,000 people across the country are now taking part in ParkPlay events. The great news for Hertfordshire residents is that this month sees the launch of, not one, but two new regular ParkPlay events here in our county. They’re designed to offer people of all ages two hours of free, informal games and activities every Saturday morning in local parks and green spaces.

The new events will launch at Jackmans Creamery, Letchworth on 17th February and Aycliffe Park, Borehamwood on 2nd March. They follow the successful launch of Hertfordshire’s first-ever ParkPlay location at Cedars Park, Waltham Cross in 2023 and will pave the way for further locations that are expected to be announced in the county later in the year.

The events are FREE to attend and run from 10:00 to 12:00 every Saturday.

Participants simply need to register themselves in advance at the relevant web page below, then head along to the park on the day and look for the ParkPlay flag.

ParkPlay Jackmans Creamery: https://park-play.com/parks/jackmans/ 

ParkPlay Aycliffe: https://park-play.com/parks/aycliffe/ 

Explaining more about ParkPlay founder Rick Jenner said,

“After a stressful, busy week, lots of people enjoy mucking about playing and hanging out with their friends and neighbours at ParkPlay. We connect people and build community. ParkPlay is tackling some of the most pressing social issues of our time - lack of exercise, isolation, mental health and the need for escape. As we recover from Covid and now face the cost-of-living crisis it’s never been more important to give communities free ways to connect and boost their wellbeing.” 

 Existing ParkPlay attendees added,

"I was looking for community activities to get involved in and I came across ParkPlay. From the first Saturday that I went along I loved it. I am retired now but ParkPlay gives me the opportunity to meet other people of all ages and have fun."

"We go along to ParkPlay as a family every Saturday morning and we all love it. It gives us the opportunity to take away the stresses of the week and just enjoy ourselves. This is an amazing community event each week that we would recommend to people of all ages. Come along and join in, you won’t be disappointed."

ParkPlay was launched to encourage everyone to be more active outdoors and bring communities together. It was made possible by the support of Sport England. At a local level, Hertfordshire County Council has played a crucial role in providing funding, with further partnerships being established with North Herts Council, Hertsmere Borough Council, InspireAll, Active In The Community and Herts Sport & Physical Activity Partnership to get these new ParkPlay events off the ground.

To find out more and to keep up to date with the latest news about the new ParkPlay events go to www.facebook.com/JackmansParkPlay and https://www.facebook.com/AycliffeParkPlay/ .

Half Term Activities

Below are a few of the activities taking place over February half-term (19-23). Please check out the criteria on the individual service website.

The Fit and Fed project will be running at February half-term (on the Holdbrook Estate in Waltham Cross. Please poster for details.

Apex 360 are running High Five camps (formerly named Fit, Fed and Red in the districts below) during half term. Details of the camps can be found on the website here: https://apex360.co.uk/highfive/ and bookings can be made via the Playwaze Booking Platform.

  • Ascot Road Primary School – Watford
  • Greenfields Primary School – Watford
  • Lime Walk Primary School - Hemel Hempstead
  • Mandeville Primary School - St Albans

Check out what SPACE have to offer this half term for children with Autism, ADHD and Neurodiverse conditions:- SPACE HERTFORDSHIRE Events | Eventbrite

Check out what's on at the Family Centres Family centre events - what's on in Hertfordshire (hertsfamilycentres.org)

Children and young people’s healthy weight survey

Can we ask our Families First Partners for your support with getting children and young people and any parents/carers to complete the following surveys.

The survey will ask for views on subjects such as weight management, fitness, nutrition, and overall health. The purpose of gathering this information is to give services users an opportunity to feedback as well as enable effective commissioning and service delivery that meets the needs of Hertfordshire residents.

For Parents/Carers

If you have had experience of our children and young people’s Healthy Weight Service (provided by BeeZee Bodies), or you have views on this topic, we want to hear from you.

Your views are important and can help us understand how to provide services in the future.

Our survey will ask you about things like weight management, fitness, and nutrition, and you’ll have the chance to win a £50 food voucher.


For children and young people

If you are a young person aged 8-18 living in Hertfordshire, we want to know if you have been helped by our Healthy Weight Service and what you think about things like being a healthy weight, keeping fit and eating well.

Please fill in our survey. Your ideas will help us understand how to help people in the future.

You can ask a parent or carer to help you if you want to.

You’ll have the chance to enter a prize draw to win a £50 sports shop voucher.


The surveys are open until Sunday 11th February 24.

Thank you


Moments Matter, Attendance Counts

Improving school attendance is everyone’s business and, to tackle the challenge we face, we need to work together. The Government is launching a national campaign to remind parents and carers of the importance of school attendance.

A toolkit has been prepared for schools, but we would like to share this as a useful resource for Families First Partners too.

The purpose of this toolkit is to provide schools with off-the-shelf products they can use to support the campaign and create a national moment around attendance.

The campaign strapline is “moments matter, attendance counts”. Messaging for the communications have been developed from research into parental attitudes, as well as two local authority pilots at the end of 2023.

Campaign messages aim to primarily reach those parents and carers whose children are taking preventable odd days of absence – or “avoidable absence” –
rather than children who face greater barriers to attendance, such as those with long term medical needs or special educational needs and disabilities.

We hope that you will support the campaign by promoting your own messages to parents.

View the Toolkit here

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