Luton's new family partnership service 'nowhere near ready' claims source
A new service to help Luton's most vulnerable families following the closure of Flying Start children's centres is "nowhere near ready", a source has claimed.
Luton Today was contacted after Luton Borough Council announced the launch of its family partnership service on April 1.
In a media statement, the council said the new service will provide support to vulnerable children, young people and families who are "facing the most complex and significant challenges".
"Specialist teams" will deliver services at two main hubs at Manor Contact Centre and Limbury Fields Community Centre, with "satellite" services at London Road Resource Centre and Beech Hill Primary School.
But one source told Luton Today: "I'm so angry as the new service is nowhere near ready, and the council are telling the public that it's up and running.
"Only about ten to 15 people have the right training from their previous jobs, and new staff transitioning from the closed children's centres haven't yet had any training at all. A lot of them don't have the basics - laptops, phones and email addresses.
"The switchboard doesn't even have up-to-date contacts, how are vulnerable people supposed to access the help they need? I can see a lot of them being passed from pillar to post.
"This service was meant to go live in July and it's been pushed forward three months' too early. All of the council's services were already bursting at the seams even before the pandemic, there's no recognition of the anxiety that staff are working under."
Luton Borough Council's children's services were given an overall rating of 'Inadequate' by Ofsted in February last year, and the watchdog is due to make a return visit in the coming months.
In response to the above complaint, a Luton Borough Council spokesman said: "This is an exciting time for Luton and we look forward to the new family partnership service making a real impact in helping support families with additional needs deal with the challenges they face.
"The vast majority of our staff have extensive experience of providing direct support to such families and we have worked extensively with a wide range of partners to ensure that families receive the right support at the right time and from the right service.
"Although families may not always receive services run by the council, when support is needed the council will build on the strengths of families and work with the whole family and their extended family network to support them in the best interests of their children.
"Enquiries relating to support for children and their families will be directed to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) which will deal with requests accordingly.
"If support is needed, this will be directed to the most appropriate service which includes the new family partnership service. The MASH is fully aware of the scope of the new service and the types of support it can offer.
"Additional staff training has been under way since February and is ongoing. Staff members already work for Luton Council and are fully equipped for their roles.
"While there is always anxiety for staff during times of major change, we have worked hard to keep staff updated regularly throughout the transition process.
"It is also natural for staff to be anxious about our expected Ofsted visit, and we have met with them frequently to ensure they are well informed about what to expect and what their role will be in the new processes.
"Further, the start for the new service was brought forward for a number of reasons, not least to reduce uncertainty and to provide a clear timeline for staff and service users.
"We are confident that it will deliver for those families who most need support."
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