Guest column: Giving children the best start in life

Coun Philip Owen, chairman of the children and young people's services committee at Nottinghamshire County Council
Coun Philip Owen, chairman of the children and young people's services committee at Nottinghamshire County Council

Nottinghamshire’ County Council is aiming to make its children’s centre services beacons of early years excellence.

It wants to ensure that they provide targeted help to support families at most risk of poor outcomes.

Children’s centre services work to give children a great start in life and are managed on behalf of the council by Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Family Action and North Notts College.

The children’s centre contract in Nottinghamshire is currently worth more than £10 million and the council has identified internal early help teams to deliver some of the elements of support.

As early help teams are often already working with older children in these families, this will deliver further joined-up support.

The council has identified academic evidence of what works and is using this evidence to develop effective services.

The future plans have been discussed by the council’s children and young people’s committee, which has agreed to the children’s centres becoming more targeted to support children at risk of poor educational outcomes and those experiencing family disadvantage.

Children’s centres help develop children so they are ready for school by providing support to help those most at risk of developmental delay, making parents’ job ready with increased aspirations for themselves and their children and boosting the emotional health and wellbeing of both parents and children.

As well as providing more volunteer opportunities, there are plans for early years providers and schools to be invited to lease rooms within children’s centres to create new childcare places.

This would be particularly useful with the roll out of 30 hours a week of funded childcare to three and four-year-olds, which has created extra demand for childcare provision in the county.