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Help for families


There's no doubt that children enrich our lives, but raising them is hard work. The hours are lousy, there's no annual leave, and crucially you don't get any training!

While we all want to do our best and give our children a good start in life, it's often hard to know what we should be doing and where to get additional advice or support when we need to. This page contains links to information which you may find useful.

Children's centres

Our children's centres provide advice and support for parents and carers of children under five years. Services are available to you from pregnancy right through to when your child starts school. Children's centres bring together a range of agencies to offer services to meet parents and children's needs, all in one place. Find the Children's centres - activities for under 5s closest to you.

Families First

We provide support to children, young people and families where there are concerns for the safety and wellbeing of children and young people or where families need intensive support for a range of complex needs. We can do this through offering support with things like parenting, children and adults emotional wellbeing, domestic abuse, family routines and boundaries, working directly with children and young people, family relationship issues, as well as housing and budgeting issues. Our service is made up of social workers, family support workers and specialist lead professionals who are co-located with One Point Service staff within the local One Point Hubs.

Families Information Service

The Families Information service is a free and impartial information service that supports families with children and young people on all aspects of family life. A Local Offer section on the website makes it easier to find everything you need to know for 0-25 year olds with special educational needs and/or disabilities. Go to the Families Information Service website for more information.

Parenting programmes

We have parenting programmes, which allow parents to access longer interventions and parent support groups, which meet the specific needs of parents, carers, children and young people. Go to the Families Information Service: parenting support page for more information. Families Information Service: County Durham Parenting Programmes Quality Standards (Information for Practitioners) are also available.    

School clothing grants and vouchers

The School Benevolent Fund for County Durham is a registered charity which offers a grant towards clothing and shoes for school pupils. Go to our Grants for school shoes and coats page for more information. 

Education in hospital

If your child requires education in hospital, we can support you with this. Go to our Education for children out of school or in hospital due to medical or mental health needs page for more information.

Special educational needs

Every child is different in the way that they learn. Schools take account of this when they plan their work. A few pupils need special or different arrangements, sometimes just for a short time, sometimes for the whole of their school life. Pupils who need this extra help have special educational needs. Go to our Special educational needs in schools page for more information.

Home education

Parents and carers have a legal responsibility to ensure that every child of compulsory school age receives an efficient full-time education suitable to his/her age, ability and aptitude and any special education needs he/she may have. For the majority of children, this means regular attendance at school. However, parents can choose to educate their child at home rather than at school. Go to our Elective home education page for more information.

Educational support for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children (GRT)

We are dedicated to improving the education outcomes of all Traveller pupils in our county. Included in this group are also Showmen (Fairground people), Circus people, Boat Travellers/Bargees, and New Travellers or New Age Travellers. Go to our Educational support for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children (GRT) (GRT) page for more information.  

Supporting the education of looked-after children

When a child is looked after by a council, it's the duty of the council as a 'corporate parent' to safeguard and promote the child's welfare. This includes supporting the child's education. Go to our The Durham Virtual School - supporting the education of looked after children page for more information.

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