ABSS Creche service – enabling ABSS parents to work towards their potential
Kayleigh Churchman, the A Better Start Southend Community Hub & Creche Services Supervisor, discusses the successes of the Community Hub and Creche and how it has benefited parents in Southend.
The A Better Start Southend Creche provision offers ABSS families a manageable solution with free childcare for parents who take part in ABSS courses, training sessions and for Parent Champion volunteers who attend ABSS governance meetings.
Children who attend the pre-bookable sessions thrive while enjoying activities comparable to other good, well-resourced childcare settings, and enjoy healthy snacks in consideration of individual children’s requirements as discussed with parents before children attend the sessions.
Most creche sessions take place at the ABSS Hub in central Southend, however it is important that the provision is flexible and can support ABSS services wherever they are being delivered. This is a key factor in the success of the provision as it allows both parent and child to be in close proximity, ensuring parents can commit to their session knowing their child is being cared for in another room.
One Parent Champion recently commented, “Having a creche in the same building means I can leave my breastfed baby with them, knowing they will bring baby to me if they need a feed.”
The Creche Team all follow the EYFS framework in daily practice and are Early Years qualified, from levels 3-5, with statutory training such as Paediatric First Aid, Safeguarding and Food Hygiene certificates, alongside additional CPD training that is regularly updated.
In addition to these, the team are trained to support children with additional needs, including some physical needs and those on the autistic spectrum, and staff work to promote positive behaviour management. They also have experience with children who have allergies and specific dietary needs. A parent recently remarked how they had only ever felt safe leaving their child with the ABSS Creche Team due to their knowledge on allergens and their abilities to support these in a safe environment.
Other key learnings:
- At a recent Work Skills course, attended by twelve parents, all of them said they would not have been able to attend the session if the Creche provision hadn’t been present.
- The creche improved one parent’s mental health due to their anxiety of leaving their child; it made a big difference to them being able to leave their child for the first time as they knew they could remain in the same building.
- The importance of taking time to know each child individually and give detailed feedback after every session.
- The facility also helped prepare children for school both in confidence and learning.
- We also connect with other partners to increase knowledge of needs of a child with a disability and adapted sessions to support the child’s needs.
Additional parents’ comments include:
“Really listened and made me feel confident leaving my child.”
“Made me realise my child could be away from me and will be ok.”
“Was brilliant for me to return and see my child playing happily.”
The team arrange seasonal events which are always popular – Stay Out Play Out events include winter or summer themed activities, depending on the time of year.
About A Better Start
A Better Start is a ten-year (2015-2025), £215 million programme set-up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.
Five A Better Start partnerships based in Blackpool, Bradford, Lambeth, Nottingham and Southend are supporting families to give their babies and very young children the best possible start in life. Working with local parents, the A Better Start partnerships are developing and testing ways to improve their children’s diet and nutrition, social and emotional development, and speech, language and communication.
The work of the programme is grounded in scientific evidence and research. A Better Start is place-based and enabling systems change. It aims to improve the way that organisations work together and with families to shift attitudes and spending towards preventing problems that can start in early life. It is one of five major programmes set up by The National Lottery Community Fund to test and learn from new approaches to designing services which aim to make people’s lives healthier and happier
The National Children’s Bureau is coordinating an ambitious programme of shared learning for A Better Start, disseminating the partnerships’ experiences in creating innovative services far and wide, so that others working in early childhood development or place-based systems change can benefit.
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Visit the A Better Start website to find out more.