A NEW contract has been signed for providing early help to families which experts say could prevent family breakdown.

4Children are to take over early help services for young people aged under 19 in Wychavon, which includes Droitwich, Worcestershire County Council has announced today (Tuesday).

Following a period of contract negotiation, 4Children has officially taken on early help services which will include the district's children's centres and family support provision.

The commissioning of early help services has introduced a significant change to how the county council will manage relationships with external providers. This change introduces 'payment by results' during the period of 4Children's contract. Payment by results is incentive based and means that payments are linked to 4Children achieving the targets that the County Council sets them.

Cllr Liz Eyre, Worcestershire County Council's cabinet member for children and families said: "Instead of focusing on the services they are delivering, what is important to us and residents is the impact the services have on improving the lives of the children and families they're working with."

Speaking on behalf of 4Children Charles Ellis, deputy chief executive at 4Children, said: “We have long believed that an integrated, holistic approach across all age ranges, as envisaged in Worcestershire, is the most effective way to provide support to all families including those who require early help and those with more complex needs.”

For some families (nationally estimated at 30 per cent of the population) difficulties arise which, if nipped in the bud early enough, can be prevented from escalating to specialist services. If early help is not offered, this can, in the worst cases, lead to children's social and emotional development being impaired and family breakdown say council leaders.

For further information about early help in Worcestershire, and the timetables for the implementation of district early help services, visit worcestershire.gov.uk/earlyhelp.