Improved support for parents of under-fives is being developed by Croydon Council and Croydon Health Services NHS Trust.
The new ‘Croydon Best Start’ initiative will help boost the social and emotional skills of many of the 500 new babies born in the borough every month.
The level of a child’s learning and development by the time they reach just 22 months is a good indicator of where their education and social mobility will be by their mid-20s. This means the role played by mothers, fathers, and other carers is significant in helping children to develop from the very earliest stages.
Some fifty families are already working with the council to help design the new service and during Family Learning Week the aim has been to recruit even more.
Central to Croydon Best Start , which is set to fully launch next April, is that the council will bring into one place the co-ordination of services offered by health visitors, midwives, early learning practitioners, family nurses and children’s. Responsibility for commissioning health visitor services, which includes midwives, has already transferred to the council.
“For all parents – and first-time parents in particular – the arrival of a child can be a bewildering and confusing time. That is why it’s vital that mums and dads are confident and have the skills to be their child’s first teacher in those important first months. Croydon Best Start is going to be our new approach to making sure that for those who need support it is easy to find and clear to understand. As one of the first 20 boroughs in England to be named as an early intervention place we are looking to lead the way in early years development.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning
One of the aims of Best Start is to ensure that parents only have to explain their situation once, allowing a network of professionals to tailor a package of support suited to each individual set of circumstances. Parents will also be encouraged and supported to help each other by sharing their experiences and knowledge.
Christina Hickson, Associate Director of Nursing for children’s services at Croydon Health Services, said:
“Children don’t come with a manual, and nor should they. We want to bring all the help and support that is available in Croydon together in one place, so that children in the borough can grow to be the best they can be. This means looking after our parents, so that they can concentrate on caring for their families, without the worry of not knowing where to go if they need advice.
“Parents told us they get frustrated having to tell their story multiple times, because our services don’t talk to each other. Best Start will bring us together. We are also widening our Croydon family but putting parents in contact with other parents to share their own experiences and what has worked for them.”
Anyone interested in helping develop the new service can contact the Best Start Team via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Votes are also being collected for a new logo for the service at the Whitgift Centre on Friday 9th October or at any Children’s Centre or Health Clinic from 12 October to 12 Nov.