Flying Start Children’s Centre Update

Report on the progress of Luton’s Flying Start Children’s Centre

During 2016 the structure of children’s centres in Luton was reviewed and an Organisational Change Assessment undertaken. From January 2017 the Luton Flying Start Children’s Centre staffing team has been directly employed by Luton Borough Council and has been operating as one children’s centre group with staff based in four neighbourhoods. The aim of this re-organisation was to bring all children’s centre under the direct management of Luton Borough Council to deliver a consistent and equitable service model across the town.


The objectives of the re-organisation were:

  • To extend the remit of children’s centre staff to deliver the non-clinical aspects of the 0-5 Healthy Child Programme
  • To align children’s centres more closely with the council’s Early Help Strategy, the Flying Start Strategy and the Health visiting service thereby reducing duplication and ensuring a single coordinated approach to early years in Luton
  • To further develop the skills of children’s centre staff through training in evidence-based parenting programmes to deliver the Flying Start core offer
  • To embed a consistent and equitable approach to the delivery of children’s centre services across Luton


In the eight months since January 2017 there has been significant progress in establishing the new model of Luton’s Flying Start Children’s Centre. We have:

  • Managed the re-organisation of staffing and premises whilst maintaining services for parents and families
  • Introduced a new system of Service Request Forms to enable partner agencies to request the appropriate service for families from children’s centres.
  • Created a FSCC development plan to focus on the following nine priorities


1 Provide access to high-quality universal services and offer support for families across the continuum of need
2 Provide a portfolio of evidence-based parenting programmes at both a universal and targeted level
3 Increase access to funded education places for eligible two year olds and support the integrated two year old review
4 Engage with parents earlier (ante-natal period)
5 Maximise health and well-being outcomes for children aged 0-5 years through targeted health and well-being promotion; support with child development; parenting guidance and skills; and ensure integration of Flying Start Children’s Centre services with Healthy Child Programme (Health Visiting Service)
6 Support children with special needs and disabilities to access services
7 Ensure the FSCC workforce have the skills and training to deliver the FSCC programmes, provide 1:1 support for children and families and develop partnership working
8 Support parents to access education, training and employment opportunities
9 Develop specific plans and targets for the four neighbourhoods based on the need identified locally and through the neighbourhood profiles


  • Established a borough-wide FSCC Advisory Board which has met twice
  • Begun to establish Community Partnership Boards in each of the four neighbourhoods
  • Introduced four FTE Family Workers whose remit is to support the Integrated 2 year old review and encourage parents to take up the offer of funded 2 year old places in early years settings
  • Developed publicity and communication materials including the development of Facebook pages for each neighbourhood.
  • Continued to train staff to deliver a wide-range of parenting courses e.g. Baby Talk
  • Reviewed the performance management of children’s centres and established a set of Key Performance Indicators which will be reported on a quarterly basis
  • Reviewed the case management system for children’s centres


Luton’s FSCC are offering a range of universal and targeted services every week. Individual programmes can be found at


On a weekly basis parents can access a range of both universal services (open to all) and targeted services (for which criteria apply) such as:


Bump to Babe – Free antenatal classes run by midwives, health visitors and children’s centre staff. The aim of the classes is to prepare expectant parents for pregnancy, birth and early parenthood.

Pregnancy Club – a monthly group for expectant mums aiming to raise the confidence of new ‘mums to be’ regarding the birth of their baby.

Mellow Bumps – a six week course suitable for mums to be with additional needs such as anxiety and/or depression between 20-30 weeks pregnant.

Take 5 Cafes – informal small group sessions where expectant parents and parents/carers with children under 6 months are welcome.

Baby Massage – sessions to enable parents to learn massage techniques and receive guidance so that they can perform the routine at home.

Stay and Play sessions – are opportunities for parents/carers to meet other people with young children. A variety of age appropriate activities are available such as messy play, soft play, stories and rhymes.

Messy Play – opportunities for children to learn through investigating and exploring messy play activities.

Play and Learn(PEEP) – provides an opportunity for parents and carers to access activities to support their children’s learning in everyday situations, using listening, talking, playing, singing, and sharing books.

Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities – A fully inclusive parenting course that encourages close and warm relationships between parents/carers and their children.

Nurturing Programme – this 10 week course focuses on recognising the feelings behind behaviour; exploring different approaches to discipline; finding ways to develop co-operation and self-discipline in children and the importance of looking after ourselves.

Incredible Years – This course is particularly useful if parents have identified some challenging behaviours from their child and would like some support to develop other problem solving skills to have a calmer family life

Bite Sized Parenting Workshops (Solihull) – covering a range of topics including infant feeding, introduction to solids, sleeping, toilet training and behaviour management

HENRY – an 8 week course to support families to develop healthy eating and lifestyles


There are currently 18,343 children under-five registered with Luton’s FSCC. Over the past eight months Luton’s children’s centres have provided services to 11,530 individual adults and children in 5,671 families


53.1% of under-ones and their parents/carers attended a service provided at a children’s centre in Quarter 1 of 2017-18

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