It is now nearly three years since children’s centre staff moved in-house as employees of Luton Council and we took on the current model of one Flying Start Children’s Centre (FSCC) operating in four neighbourhood teams. In October we held a team day bringing together all the FSCC staff teams to reflect on our progress to date and to discuss the part FSCCs can play in achieving Luton’s ambition of ensuring no-one is living in poverty by 2040.
The four children’s centre neighbourhood teams work closely with colleagues in Cambridge Community Services NHS Trust (CCS) our health visiting service. This provides a consistent and joined up approach to supporting families in the earliest years.
Working with midwifery colleagues we also provide a range of antenatal services for families during their pregnancy which includes a three week programme of antenatal education (Bump to Babe) and a monthly pregnancy club for expectant mums.
Perinatal mental health is given a high priority and we have a specific group focusing on parent-infant attachment, with staff trained by the Anna Freud National Centre for Families and Children. Alongside the support that is offered to families on a universal level the Children’s Centre is a key deliverer of a range of evidence-based parenting interventions. These include: Family Links Nurturing Programme and Parenting Puzzle, Webber Stratton Incredible Years, Solihull Parenting, Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities and HENRY.
Our teams of FSCC Family workers provide individual support for families who need help to support their children. During 2018/19 we received 1,118 Service Request Forms (SRF) for additional support for families with emerging needs, offered alongside the programmed services and interventions.
Since April 2019 our children’s centre staff have been supporting Luton’s Talking Takes Off programme ensuring there is a focus on children’s speech, language and communication development in all our universal Stay and Play group and introducing new Sing and sign sessions. We have also introduced weekly, targeted sessions for children called Talking Takes Off for Communication. This rolling programme of sessions is based on Parents Early Education Partnership (PEEP) principles and any professional working with families can give parents an invitation to attend these sessions.
Our priorities for Flying Start Children’s Centres for 2019/20 are:
- Supporting the Talking Takes Off programme to narrow the word gap for children aged 5 years through a systems change and a development of an integrated pathway from universal to targeted support
- Further development of whole family working as part of the remodelling being undertaken by the Prevention and Early Intervention Transformation Programme
- Implementation (as part of a pan-Bedfordshire model) of the DWP Reducing Parental Conflict Programme
- Further development of partnership work to support children with SEND
- Achievement of UNICEF BFI Gold Accreditation in partnership with CCS
Timetables with details of all the services offered by Luton’s Flying Start Children’s Centre (FSCC) can be found on our website: https://www.flyingstartluton.com/childrenscentres/