1998 Early Years Development Plan
SECTION I - FAMILY SUPPORT/PARENT EDUCATION AND
SERVICES FOR CHILDREN UNDER 3
The Bristol Early Years Partnership has given specific
consideration to family support and wishes to highlight the needs of very small children
so that future Early Years plans can develop a more detailed strategy for a co-ordinated
service from 0 onwards. Family support and Parent Education have been linked as it is seen
as crucial to work in partnership with parents, aiming to empower them.
Social Services has agreed to use the following working
definition of family support:-
Family support is about the creation and enhancement,
with and for children in need and their families, of locally based (or accessible)
activities, facilities and networks, the use of which will have outcomes such as
alleviated stress, increased self-esteem, promoted parental/carer/family competence and
behaviour and increased parental/carer capacity to nurture and protect the children.
There is a whole range of family support services and a variety
of provision for children under 3 years provided by a range of organisations. Social
Services has commissioned the University of the West of England to undertake a
comprehensive audit of family support services to children in need. This work will be
completed in early 1998. Social Services take a leading role in ensuring that services to
support families are available to Children in Need (1989 Children Act). The 1997 Bristol
Children=s Services Plan has identified a need
to determine a model and approach for providing family support services in addition to
structures and systems in existence for child protection work. The Children=s Services Plan estimated that from a total
operational expenditure on children=s services
14.6% was spent on child protection and family support services (this is for the whole age
range). The main family support services provided by Social Services are Social Workers,
Community Care Workers (practical help in the home) and day care. In addition Social
Services funds two Barnardos family centres for families with children under 5 years in
areas with high social needs.
Parent Education and Partnerships
There are a whole range of approaches to parent education being
adopted across the city. This includes:
|family learning projects (survey for 1997 is available)|
|positive parenting programmes (often based in Social Services nurseries)|
|other parent education programmes (often based in voluntary sector)|
|health education initiatives|
It should be noted that this range of provision is currently
organised on an ad hoc basis and that it may be difficult for parents to know what is
available in or near their locality.
An important aspect of supporting families and parent education
is the involvement of parents in the development and provision of services. There are a
number of initiatives/settings within Bristol where parents/carers have become very active
members in service delivery e.g. Barton Hill Family Centre (where parents have virtually
self built the play centre), working group to develop Hartcliffe Early Years Centre,
Advisory Committee for Fulford Family Centre, parent governors, parent councils etc.
An attempt has been made to consider the range of provision
available to children under 3 years. Many of these services could also be termed as family
support but there is a need to consider the needs of very young children. Leaflets are
produced by Avon Parents Network which identify services on a locality basis but as this
provision is subject to continual change it has not proved possible to collate details of
It is clear that Bristol has a very rich variety of different
services for Under 3s although some areas may be better served than others. Health
visitors and midwives provide the first point of contact for new parents and are a key
source of support and advice. Health visitors in some areas do run parenting classes/post
natal support groups and often are involved in specific health education promotions. In
the Bristol area developmental checks are conducted on children at 3 months, 2 years and 32 years. Where necessary referrals are made to a Child
Development Assessment Centre. Beyond this essential service there are a range of
services/groups which cater for children under 3 e.g.
|childminders (some places sponsored by Social Services)|
|parent and toddler groups|
|playgroups (a few cater for 22 year
|self help groups|
|gym tots etc in sports/leisure centres|
|day nurseries (private, voluntary, social services)|
|informal arrangements e.g. babysitting services|
|Many family support/parent education/Under 3 services operate on a very informal
basis but serve the needs of those who attend well.|
|The lack of co-ordination of services can lead to duplication and pose
difficulties for parents accessing information.|
|Family support services funded by Social Services are not always equally
accessible across the city although outreach developments from day nurseries can start to
improve this situation.|
|Some schools are starting to develop expertise in providing family support
services but lack staff or space to achieve this.|
|Lack of continuity for children during their early years (i.e. movements between
settings e.g. childminder ! day nursery ! nursery school) impedes the effectiveness of family
support and education services.|
|Parents of both disabled children and parents from black and other ethnic
minority groups are not always involved (in the development of all settings).|
|Many settings for Under 3s are not regulated and quality may be variable although
some local efforts have been made to standardise good practice e.g. operating guidance for
creches in Lawrence Weston and at Barton Hill Family Centre. Such arrangements may,
however, not be welcome to all providers.|
|Health professionals play a key role in relation to families with very young
children and consistently needs to be given as to how they can be involved in planning by
|There are a range of views about appropriate settings for the care of very young
children, especially under 2 years. Planning needs to take into account current research
being conducted which emphasises the significant emotional demands babies and very young
children can make on their carers.|
The number of diverse opportunities for parents in family learning projects could
benefit from mapping and co-ordinating. The establishment of a multi-agency family
learning forum could facilitate this.
Family support services need to be provided from settings which children and
families use and available at an early stage. More provision from schools would enhance
the service and may well be seen as less stigmatising by parents.
Parent involvement in planning and delivering services is an important way to
empower parents and improves service quality.
Black parents, particularly, need to be more involved in the development of early
years services and family support services need to be relevant to them e.g. accessible to
parents whose first language is not English.
Services for disabled children need to be inclusive and all family support and
parent education services need to work towards this as an aim.
Family support services need to be accessible before problems become entrenched.
Staff in all early years settings may need to examine how they can work in a more Afamily friendly@
way in order to provide family support and training will be necessary to achieve this.
There is little co-ordinated planning between Health and other providers at present
to ensure services meet needs.
Much provision for under 3s is unregulated and informal. Some attention could be
given to increased co-ordination and promotion of standards (e.g. creche networks) but not
in such a way as to stifle local groups.
B:Background C:Early Years in Bristol D:The Partnership
& Consultation E:Audit of Need & Provision
F: Quality & Inspection G: Curriculum & role of Qualified Teachers H: Training & Staff Development I: Family Support/ Parent Involvement & Under 3's J: SEN K: Integration L: Affordable Childcare M: Information
Services Conclusions Annexes Executive Summary/Action
Plan Supplementary Info