Joint Statement from Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottinghamshire Healthcare in response to questions raised about Misterton Children’s Centre
On the 19 July 2018, Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHT) asked parents to send in any queries to Irene Kakoullis or Karon Foulkes who would provide a formal response after 27 July.
The answers to parents’ questions were to be posted on Nottinghamshire Healthcare’s website and a link provided on the Bassetlaw Rural Children’s Centre Facebook page. Only one parent sent questions requiring a response.
Question 1: How can referrals be made and to whom?
Universal volunteer-led services such as ‘stay and play’ will be open to all local parents; for all other targeted services such as parenting or child development programmes, you can fill in a Self Referral Form, speak to a member of staff, a health professional or your local childcare provider.
Question 2: Are these statistics open to the public? (Childcare)
All Local Authorities have a statutory duty to publish an annual childcare sufficiency assessment. This helps the council to identify areas that require additional childcare and areas where there is sufficient childcare, but families are not accessing their free entitlements. As the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment is published annually, the data is a snap shot in time only and sufficiency levels fluctuate throughout the year. The council does update its data more frequently but publishes the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment only once a year.
The 2018 Childcare Sufficiency Assessment is due to be published in September 2018. This will be published on Early Childhood Services | Nottinghamshire County Council.
Question 3: Is there any literature available in respect of the new “core offer”.
The draft Children’s Centre ‘Core Offer’ was presented to the Children and Young People’s Committee on 19th March 2018. This paper provides detail of the proposed changes to the service which will be more targeted, prioritising families with greater needs. You will find a one page summary of the core offer in Appendix One of the committee report which is available here Democratic Management System > Meetings.
We know that the most effective way of informing parents and carers of the services available is through face to face discussions, whereby staff can answer questions as they arise and help parents understand how to access the services; these conversations are taking place across Nottinghamshire.
Question 4: Regarding the childminders support group, this is not run by centre staff so how was the decision reached to get rid of this group?
On many sites Children’s Centres are able to host services provided by other agencies including childminders. Each site is unique however, so managers assess the space available within buildings, prioritising the need for Children’s Centre services and the provision of childcare. In Misterton Children’s Centre, there will be no capacity to continue to host the Childminder Group alongside childcare once it starts.
Childminders are private businesses and the Childminder Groups who meet in our properties are independent of the Children’s Centre service. Childminder Groups provide peer support and allow opportunities for children to access a different environment outside of the childminder’s home. Childminder groups are able to use a range of alternative venues.
Question 5: Please can you confirm how long the drop-in session period will last, will this be on a 1-1 basis and will an appointment be necessary?
Parents and carers can access the Children’s Centre service by completing a self-referral form, speaking to a member of staff, a health professional or a local childcare provider. They will be provided with an appointment to meet a Children’s Centre worker which could be within one of our properties, a community venue or their home. The length of appointments will vary depending on the needs of the family.
When staff are available in Children’s Centre properties, parents are able to drop in to ask for support. Contact telephone numbers for each Children’s Centre cluster are published on line, printed literature and at the front door of most Children’s Centre buildings, so if the building is closed, parents are encouraged to make telephone contact. A Children’s Centre cluster is a group of Children’s Centre services across a defined locality, services provided in Misterton are part of the Bassetlaw Rural Children’s Centre cluster.
Question 6: Where will the additional classes be held? Such as Sleep Tight, Parenting programmes, Cook and Eat sessions etc. How will parents be informed of these sessions?
Parenting programmes and classes will be run in a variety of venues as they do now. These include community venues and dedicated Children’s Centre properties. Misterton Children’s Centre site will be used to deliver these sessions as part of the Bassetlaw District core offer.
As in the previous answers, parents are still able to refer themselves to the service. Access to sessions will be determined according to need as assessed by a Children’s Centre worker.
Question 7: How often will self-weigh be available to parents?
Self-weigh will continue to be available when the building is open. Parents and carers are advised to call first to check that the Misterton Children’s Centre building is open on 01909 731269.
Question 8: What (volunteering) opportunities are open in Misterton?
Children’s Centre services have always had a number of well trained and enthusiastic volunteers working in a range of areas like supporting groups, working on reception, in crèches, stay and play sessions, doing home visiting as specifically trained perinatal mental health volunteers and providing breastfeeding support.
These opportunities are open to all parents, including those in Misterton albeit not all opportunities will be available from the Misterton building.
If parents want to volunteer to lead a Stay and Play session, they will need to discuss their ideas with the Bassetlaw Service Manager as each site is unique. Managers assess the space available within buildings, prioritising the need for Children’s Centre services and the provision of childcare. Consideration is also given to additional demands placed on resources such as staffing, caretaking, cleaning and utility bills.
Question 9: Why was there no consultation process throughout the decision making for these changes?
Consultation about the new Children’s Centre model has taken place with some service users across Nottinghamshire. In 2017, Nottingham Trent University was commissioned to carry out focus groups with local service users to help understand the benefits of the service and what changes, if any, would be required for service delivery. The groups included mothers, fathers, young parents, and parent volunteers. Key findings identified that:
- Parents and carers would like to be more involved in running services and volunteering
- Additional outreach work with hard to reach groups is required to engage vulnerable families work e.g. Jobcentre Plus
- Parents want the service to continue its strong links with healthcare professionals
- Children’s Centre properties are not used to their capacity and service users would like to see more services operating in the buildings
Decision making was also informed by national and local research of what is most effective in improving outcomes for children and families, as well as a greater understanding of which children and families are most at risk of poor outcomes in Nottinghamshire. Using this information is paramount to ensure that public funding is spent on the things we know make a difference to families, especially those families who require additional support. Consultation findings have been used alongside these findings to shape the Children’s Centre Service offer.
Nationally, Children’s Centre properties are meant to provide services for families with children under the age of 5, including childcare. Consultation regarding the inclusion of childcare alongside Children’s Centre services is not a statutory duty, however has been carried out with the majority of buildings where childcare is required.