Council wins award for raising awareness of free child care
26 March 2018Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Early Years Team has won a national award for more than doubling the number of eligible two year olds receiving free child care in four years.
The Council’s Early Years Team won the Two Year old Award in the Childcare Works Awards 2018, for its success in encouraging families to take up places.
In 2014, half of eligible two year olds were taking up child care places. The Early Years team put in place a plan to increase this number by reaching out to parents to explain the benefits of this free offer.
A placement officer began contacting prospective families to tell them of the benefits, and they became a friendly point of contact for families. Within a year the number of eligible families accessing the service had risen to 75 per cent and this figure continues to grow.
Helen Brackenbury, the Council’s Director of Early Help and Prevention, said: “We are delighted to win this award. It is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our Early Years Team to increase the number of families taking up child care for their 2 year olds.
“We are pleased that so many of our local families are accessing free places. It gives the children an opportunity to socialise with other children and to develop their Early Years education before they start school. We worked with all of the families of the children who have taken up places to discuss their child’s development and to direct them to other services available to them where needed.
“Cheshire West and Chester Council commissioned the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership to provide this service in January 2018 and they are continuing the award winning work that has been established.”
Val Sturgess, Clinical Service Manager for the Starting Well service at Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP), said: “We are delighted to share in the recognition of the Early Years team with this achievement. Going forward, the new Starting Well service can build on this success and the confidence it brings to all those involved.”
The success of the project is down to the close contact and support offered to prospective parents: Early Years Workers met with prospective families to understand their needs and the needs of the child. They were supported to find the right childcare provider for their child.
Support was also offered to parents to support them to help their children learn at home, including one to one sessions in the home. The Early Years Team worked closely with the children centres and settings to ensure they were providing high quality childcare.
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