By Tony Earnshaw Local Democracy Reporter

Hundreds of thousands of pounds are to be pumped into creating “family hubs” in Kirklees to support people with increasingly complex family situations.

Kirklees Council believes that by helping troubled families and protecting children from harm it will reduce the number of youngsters being taken into care or foster homes.

Over time that could reduce the financial burden on the authority by more than £1m.

Presently taking a child into care costs a council £58,664 a year. Fostering a child costs £38,974 a year. The council estimates that could cost £586,640 in the first year rising to £1.17m thereafter.

The early support model is aimed at families and children aged 0 to 19 – or up to age 25 for a young person with a disability.

Four hubs, each with a designated children’s centre, will be created to serve Huddersfield, Dewsbury and Mirfield, Batley and Spen, and what has been dubbed “Kirklees Rural”.

That means re-aligning 11 current family support teams.

The children’s centres will be based at Dewsbury Moor, Birstall and Birkenshaw, the Chestnut Centre at Ashbrow in Huddersfield and Slaithwaite Town Hall.

The new project will also absorb existing maternity hubs to create an overriding local offer that “better meets the needs of local families”.

The family hubs – costing more than £600,000 – are expected to be approved at Kirklees Council’s decision-making Cabinet (Dec 15). They have been designed to help with:

  • The parenting journey including physical and emotional health and well-being.
  • Supporting children and young people to attend school.
  • Support for families with children with SEND.
  • Addressing issues such as gangs, county lines, anti-social behaviours, Child Sexual Exploitation.
  • Providing advice and support around employment, housing, benefits, adult learning, food and energy poverty.
  • Domestic abuse, alcohol and substance misuse.

The council’s early support budget totals more than £7.5m. There are currently 110,300 children and young people in Kirklees (aged 0 – 19), which results in a spend of £68.22 per child/young person on council Early Support services across the authority.