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  • Parent Champions who weare and what we do

    Family and Childcare Trust the new name for Daycare Trust and Familiy & Parenting Institute

    Parent volunteers providing peer-to-peerchildcare information

  • Parent Champions for Childcare are parents who havepositive experiences of using childcare and/or supportingtheir childs early learning, who act as advocates and peeradvisers to other parents in their community.

    At every stage of their childrens lives, there is one sourceof information that parents rely on most other parents.And when it comes to deciding whether or not to sendyour child to nursery, or choosing a childcare place, thedirect experience of other parents is a powerful source.This is the thinking behind Parent Champions, a DaycareTrust initiative that started in 2007 with pilot schemes in 3London boroughs, which tested whether parents withgood experiences of childcare can act as advocates intheir communities and influence the choice of otherparents they may not have previously known. Since thatpilot phase, with the support of government funding,Daycare Trust has delivered a number of projects aroundthe country working in partnership with local authoritiesand local community organisations.

    Parent Champions usually work closely with the localFamily Information Service or childrens centres and the

    objective of a scheme is to engage parents, provideaccurate information and encourage an increase inparticipation in early learning activities and take-up ofchildcare and childrens services. Parent Championsvolunteer for an average of five hours per week and eachproject run has an ideal target of recruiting sixeightParent Champions. The costs of running a scheme willdepend on the incentives offered to the ParentChampions, the number of volunteers, the resources theyare given and the costs of the delivery organisation, forinstance, staff salary and overheads.

    From 20112013 Daycare Trust delivered pathfinderParent Champions schemes and a National Network ofParent Champions projects across the country. It is fromthis phase of the project that the case studies included inthis booklet have been developed.

    The case studies represent a cross section of thevolunteers involved in both past and current projects andfrom a range of backgrounds.

    The Family and Childcare Trust - the new name for Daycare Trust and Family & Parenting Institute

    Above: David from Bradford, see page 7

    The Parent Championsscheme has beendeveloped by DaycareTrust. Following ourmerger with Family &Parenting Institute, we willcontinue to deliver ParentChampions under our newname, the Family andChildcare Trust.

    We are most grateful to theDepartment for Educationwhose continued supportand funding has enabledthe development of ParentChampions.

  • Fadhila was chosen by Westminster local authority tobecome a Parent Champion due to her links to the Arabicspeaking community near where she lives in London.Fadhila, originally from Syria, has only been living in theUK for 2 years and has an 18-month-old daughter.

    When her daughter was four-months-old, Fadhilas healthvisitor advised her to visit the local childrens centres inthe area. It was through the childrens centres that sheheard about English classes and later the ParentChampions project. Whilst at the childrens centre,Fadhila became involved with translating someinformation into Arabic and through that work she wasable to build relationships with the staff at the centre,who she got to know quite well. This helped in hersubsequent Parent Champion role. Being relatively new tothe area, and also with English as an additional language,it took a little time for Fadhila to build up her contacts andconfidence.

    The first week was very hard, since it wasnew, and I was not fluent in English, but thesecond week I felt more comfortable, and thenit became very easy.

    As well as going to the local childrens centres, Fadhilaalso spoke to Arabic speaking parents at colleges, at thelibrary, near local shops and even when she was on theunderground. She also selected one local childrenscentre and took the centres timetable into thesurrounding streets to explain to passing families aboutwhat was available there many of the local familiesthought you had to pay for all the activities. She also tookinformation into local schools and talked with the familiesof the children attending.

    Building on her previous translation work with childrenscentres, Fadhila helped translate some of the local FamilyInformation Service leaflets into Arabic and was also ableto sit down with some Arabic speaking parents to gothrough non translated materials, ensuring that parents,

    who did not haveEnglish as a firstlanguage,understood whatwas written.

    Fadhila receivedgood support fromWestminsterFamily InformationService (FIS) andknew she couldcontact themwhenever shecame acrosssomething shewasnt sure about. She also linked with the childrenscentre outreach workers. The FIS noticed a definite rise inenquiries from the Arabic speaking community, a result ofFadhilas contact with families in the area.

    Before coming to the UK, Fadhila had been a journalist inSyria and had some volunteering experience with theSyrian Womens Union, helping refugees in Baghdad. HerParent Champion role had been her first work experiencein England. She has found being a Parent Championtransforming her confidence has grown, she has madesome friends locally, and now feels much more part ofthe community. She has also begun to study childcare atcollege and applied to volunteer at a childrens centre.

    Fadhilas story Westminster Parent Champion

    I feel very happy now, and know I can findhelp for people. I feel part of thiscommunity and my life has meaning now.Before I was scared to start work and leavemy daughter with other people, but now Iknow I can do some work and still take careof her.

    1Parent Champions who we are and what we do 3

  • The Westminster Parent Champions project ran for 6months in 2012. The project was managed through theWestminster Family Information Service (FIS) andcoordinated by the FIS Manager, Janese Samuels(pictured right with Parent Champion Fadhila, left).

    The project focused on target groups of disadvantagedfamilies in three localities and sought to engage parents oflooked after two-year-olds in an aim to reduce child povertyand inform families about the free entitlement. ThreeParent Champions were recruited for the project and werelinked to three childrens centres in the borough, throughwhich they would be supervised. In practice the ParentChampions tended to link more closely with Janese andthe FIS and built up a close working and trusting personalrelationship, which Janese feels is key to any schemesucceeding. All three of the Parent Champions were Arabicspeakers and as a result, the Westminster project endedup particularly targeting Arabic speaking families.

    Prior to the project beginning, Janese made contact withall relevant partners in the authority, including childrenscentres and schools, in the maintained and private,voluntary and independent sector, family centres, librariesand locality managers to make sure they were aware ofthe Parent Champions work and to get them on board.

    Recruitment started off slowly; there was little responseinitially to adverts that were circulated to childrenscentres and through local networks. The deadline wasextended and recruitment was more successful - sixparents applied and three of those were felt to have theappropriate skills and experience and were selected asParent Champions. The target was to recruit sixvolunteers, but it was agreed to be far more beneficial totake on those who were known to be very capable ofdoing the role. By chance the project ended up with oneParent Champion per locality, which was ideal.

    The Parent Champions were given Oyster cards, loanedmobile phones and given top ups and monthly incentives,

    which were provided through their supervision sessions.The monthly incentives were particularly valued by theParent Champions.

    Training was provided in short sessions over threeseparate days, which was seen as beneficial, as itenabled the Parent Champions to digest information andcome up with questions that added value to the training.Training included basic childcare information, how toengage with parents and confidence building, using roleplay situations to work through different examples. Thetraining was co-delivered by a Daycare Trust consultantand by Janese and so included information from the FISperspective, which worked well.

    An important lesson that came out of thetraining was that you dont need to get tooinvolved with individual stories you comeacross and you do not have to try and solveeveryones problems just help guide them torelevant services.

    The Parent Champions had different reasons for wantingto take on the role, including gaining relevant workexperience, improving their English, building confidenceand improving communication skills, overcoming isolation

    The Family and Childcare Trust - the new name for Daycare Trust and Family & Parenting Institute

    The Westminster Parent Champions project 2

  • and making friends, and becoming more involved in theircommunity and society in general. All three ParentChampions felt that they had achieved these goals by theend of the project.

    Janese has kept in contact with the Parent Championsand tries to include them in other FIS work. Since theproject ended the Parent Champions have been involvedin other Daycare Trust work, including speakingengagements at events, talking about their volunteeringexperience. One of the Parent Champions has recentlybeen accepted for a post working in a nursery anddirectly attributes this to the experience she gainedthrough working on the proj