Issue details

23/00113 - Families First for Children - Pathfinder

Proposed decision 


The Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services is asked (subject to selection by the DfE as an appropriate Pathfinder) to:


A)   Agree to enter into relevant agreements with the DfE to become a Pathfinder for the delivery of Families First for Children (agreement to include the acceptances of relevant Memorandums of Understandings and associated funding)


B)   Delegate authority to the Corporate Director of Children, Young People and Education, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services, to take other relevant actions, including but not limited to, finalising the terms of and entering into required contracts or other legal agreements, as necessary to implement the decision.



Reason for the decision


The Department for Education (DfE) published Stable Homes, Built on Love – an Implementation strategy and consultation on 2 February 2023, the consultation was backed by £200m additional investment. The Families First for Children (FFC) Pathfinder is a core commitment made in the strategy.


Kent County Council applied to become a FFC Pathfinder through Wave 2 of the programme on 6 November 2023 with support from the Assistant Chief Constable and the Director of Children’s Services in the Kent and Medway Integrated Care Board. This is in recognition that becoming a FFC Pathfinder will require greater integration and system level reform of services to transform the multi-agency safeguarding arrangements, Family Help, Child Protection and Family Networks.


Approval is sought to engage in progressing the application and implementing the requirements, including spending the money in line with the conditions.




The Stable Homes, Built on Love strategy sets out a vision to re-balance children’s social care away from costly crisis intervention to more meaningful and effective early support. It sets out actions that seek to:


       Address urgent issues facing children and families now

       Lay the foundations for whole system reform

       Set national direction for change


The DfE states it will reform in phases, investing £200m over the next two years. After two years they will refresh this strategy, scaling up new approaches that have been tested and bring forward legislation (subject to parliamentary time).


The key features of this programme include:

  • Establishing a system-wide, 'Families First' culture, which addresses structural inequalities, attends to the full spectrum of families’ contexts and needs, and facilitates a welcoming and effective system for children and families.
  • Clarifying and strengthening multi-agency safeguarding arrangements, ways of working and independent scrutiny. This includes strengthening the role of education in multi-agency safeguarding arrangements at strategic level.
  • Streamlining and supporting effective multi-agency information sharing and case management systems.


Options (other options considered but discarded)


To not accept the offer, if it is forthcoming from the DfE for KCC to become a Pathfinder in Wave 2 of the programme. KCC has significant pressures and challenges and is advanced in integration, this funding would boost the delivery of integrated teams in adopting the FFC model of delivery. It is highly likely that this will be the direction of travel for all Children’s Services.  KCC would be required to transform services in the future without transformation funding.


How the proposed decision supports the Strategic Statement:


The proposed decision supports Framing Kent’s Future Our Council Strategy 2022-2026, Specifically Priority 4 New Models of Care and Support:


To support the most vulnerable children and families in our county, ensuring our social work practice supports manageable caseloads, reflective learning, joined up safeguarding and

effective corporate parenting arrangements incorporating the priorities as listed below:


  •    Support further improvement in the quality of social care practice through investing in our children’s social care workforce, ensuring appropriate caseloads and reflective learning time available for our social workers, and further developing the Kent Social Work Academy.
  •    Embed our ‘One front door’ approach, working with partners to ensure referrals to children’s social care are efficiently and consistently managed to provide the child or family with the right help at the right time.
  •    Embed a whole-family approach, tackling the underlying problems that might cause concern in a child’s family, such as domestic abuse, substance misuse and parental mental health.”


Decision type: Key

Decision status: For Determination

Notice of proposed decision first published: 12/12/2023

Decision due: Not before 10th Jan 2024 by Cabinet Member for Integrated Children's Services
Reason: To allow 28 day notice period required under Exeuctive Decision regulations

Lead member: Cabinet Member for Integrated Children's Services

Lead director: Carolann James

Department: Education & Young People's Services

Contact: Florah Shiringo Email: or 03000 421930 Email:

Consultation process

The Directorate held an informal briefing for all Members of the Children’s Young People and Education Cabinet Committee on 15 December 2023.


Financial implications: From July 2023 to March 2025, the DfE is investing over £45 million to design and test radical reforms in a number of local areas, across the following policies: • family help • child protection • family network support packages (FNSPs) • safeguarding partners £19.5 million funding is available for Wave 2 of the FFC Pathfinder in the financial year 2024-2025. DfE have banded funding based on the threshold of Children in Need. Due to the size of Kent, the bid can be up to and including £5m. The bid submission for KCC is £4,996,042, with a specific delivery breakdown and to be spent on transformation for evaluation in 2025.

Legal implications: Kent County Council will be required to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the DfE if approved.

Equalities implications: Equalities implications: An initial Equality Impact Assessment is underway. Data Protection implications: The DPIA would be further developed once data flows understood between different partners