The CHANGE: Childcare and Nurture Glasgow East project aims to support families with children between 0-12 so they can tell us what they want and need from childcare services and have easier access to childcare.
We believe that people are the experts in their own lives, and that we need to hear from parents and people in the community to find out what works well, what makes things difficult and what we can do to make it easier.
In the first year of the project, we spoke to parents, carers and children and have focused on going to where people are to talk about childcare services.
We continued with our community engagement work in our second year and began to work on testing some changes to childcare services base don what families told us was needed.
Our conversations to date have included over 100 parents (this includes carers) and 50 children and young people. Most of the parents and carers we’ve spoken to have been female and aged between 20 and 35.
In the sections below you can read a summary of what people have told us so and what we are planning to do with this on our third year.
Many parents said they do not currently have access to childcare that would allow them to do other things. Families said an increase in registered childcare places would be their top priority.
Parents said they were not aware of when they could expect to hear if their child had a place at nursery (for 3- and 4-year-olds), and asked for more information on how this works. One suggestion was:
“Status updates from the nursery would be very helpful, and with information on how to appeal if you don’t get a place”.
Parents talked about the fact that there are very few out of school care places in the area. They talked about how it is difficult to make a decision about a college course when you don’t know if you will have childcare in place to let you study.
Families spoke to us about really appreciating the childcare they have and the staff who work there.
Childcare that could be used for different number of hours per week and include the school holidays was mentioned. Parents who work shifts that change every week said they need childcare for this.
Families talked about not having any childcare when they have an emergency, such as a family member who looked after their child being ill or on holiday. Parents said they would like to be able to use services sometimes and not always weekly.
Families said they like nurseries to be open early (before 8.30am was mentioned) and until after 6pm.
Many parents highlighted that single parents did not have a network to fall back on.
Childcare over the holidays with the option of spreading nursery hours over the year was something several parents felt strongly would help them.
Parents talked about the impact the closure of Parkhead and Bridgeton Job Centres may have on them. To get to appointments now might mean they miss the school start or collection time.
Access to affordable childcare is essential for families.
Families said they also need advice about their options on paying for childcare, to allow them to plan.
Some parents said they would like it to be clear why different payment levels for council nurseries are in place.
Parents said a ‘one stop shop’ or ‘hub’ with information about childcare would make it much easier. This would help families to plan, particularly when it comes to looking for work.
Some online sources of information were mentioned as being very helpful, including the Glasgow Family Information Service, Netmums and, most frequently, search engines.
Some families preferred the idea of going to someone they knew and trusted, including health visitors, teachers, and community staff.
One idea suggested was an information pack from the health visitor including information on what childcare is available, what to look for (e.g. accreditation for childminders, what the average costs are and when you should apply for a place).
Parents suggested schools could provide information to families who have older children.
Some families said they would like newsletters that included information about childcare but that language accessibility must be thought about.
Families said they ‘don’t know what they don’t know’, and are often confused by the amount of information they get. They said when it comes to childcare they “don’t know where to start”.
Some parents said they were lucky because they knew a teacher, staff member from a nursery or welfare advisor personally who kept them informed.
Families talked about key people in the community such as head teachers who work very well with other services.
Trusted professionals are very important. People who have moved into the new social housing in the Athlete’s Village said they are in better homes but their family and friends are now on the other side of the city. This has had a knock-on effect on childcare.
Many parents highlighted the importance of families from other communities and ethnicities coming together in services and feeling more like a community.
Families said trusted support and advice on things that are happening in families’ lives are what builds a sense of community.
Families said the key things they want out of childcare are for their children to be happy and safe, and to have the chance to socialise. This was important for children with no brothers or sisters, or where English was not the first language of the house.
Transport was raised as an important issue; some parents said that the only possible childcare places were two bus journeys away, leading to long and expensive travel time. They can then not do other things during this time.
There are projects and services operating in the area that are not registered childcare but are relied on and enjoyed by families. This includes youth groups and play clubs providing a wide range of activities for children.
We talked to children at Dalmarnock Primary School’s Summer Club about what an out of school club is, and asked children and young people to design their dream out of school care.
The opportunity to be outside came up as being important to children and young people.
Young people said that who was there mattered just as much as the activities they could take part in.
Sport was a key area. Football and gymnastics were mentioned and they said coaching was very valued.
Many children were looking to learn more about how to draw and paint, and be given the resources for this.
In our second year we developed a plan for hearing from people who have particular barriers to accessing childcare. Our initial engagement activity had focussed on parents and carers who were accessing childcare services or other services and we were keen to include parents and carers who were not accessing services (but who were engaged with some type of support network). The groups we met included:
- Asylum seeking and refugee families
- Kinship carers
- Parents or carers of children with a disability
- Parents or carers who are disabled or have a learning difficulty
- Families experiencing poverty
Families told us that their circumstances often made it even more difficult to access childcare. For example, kinship carers spoke about a lack of financial support with many experiencing an unexpected change of circumstances when children were placed in their care. Parents and carers of children with a disability told us that there was a need for more affordable specialty additional support needs provision.
We also heard that families living in challenging circumstances could quickly become isolated if they were not taking part in community activities. Professionals spoke of the benefits of an early intervention approach and supporting families before a point of crisis.
We held sessions in two primary schools in the CHANGE project area, with children aged 8-11. We asked children about what they expected from an out of school care service or activity club.
- Good staff: Staff need to be good at doing their job and know a lot about it. They also need to listen to children and speak to them in a way that shows respect. Staff should make sure children can be involved in planning activities.
- Relationships: It is important that children have friends when they go to a childcare service. Children told us that services should make sure everyone settles in well when they start going to a club. Another thing that could make children want to use a service would be if they had friends who had been before and who enjoyed going there.
- Play: Children wanted to have the chance to play, both indoors and outdoors, in a place that was safe, clean and tidy. We also heard that children enjoyed doing activities with sports coaches and play leaders.
We ran two taster sessions in Tollcross Park in 2018 to give families a flavour of how outdoor space is being used in the project area and what it might feel like for their children. All participants concluded that they were in favour of more opportunities for this locally. Families were especially positive about the opportunity to be outdoors together rather than doing more traditional indoor activities such as soft play.
The CHANGE Hub was established bringing together organisations working with families to share ideas, concerns, good practice and innovation using the Children and Young People’s Improvement Collaborative methodology. The hub is supported by a Scottish Government Improvement Adviser. There are currently 19 core members of the hub with several of these contributing to working groups. The aim is to lead change at a local level which will reduce barriers to accessing childcare.
Some trials are now underway with CHANGE Hub members to support services to access low cost quality food options and increase uptake of holiday provision.
What happens Next? Year 3 plans for CHANGE
We know that there are currently very few childminders in the CHANGE project area. We will be working to try to increase this number.
We will be supporting a project with Clyde Gateway, the Scottish Childminding Association and some other partners, which aims to recruit new childminders in the Clyde Gateway area.
We will also be exploring the possibility of expanding the number of community childminders that can provide support to families in the East of Glasgow.
Childcare providers and families have told us there is a need for more out of school care places in the area, especially in and around Parkhead. We hope to take forward plans that will see an increase in the number of out of school care places that are available.
There are fewer places available, and waiting lists are more common, for children aged 0-2. We are exploring several options for how to expand on this and considering what the best option or options might be. This could include playgroups, family support services or expanding some of the existing services.
Families have told us that there are some very good services in the area that are not registered childcare, but that they rely on for support and who provide activities for children. This typically includes play and youth-based services who are delivering free or very low cost services. We hope to support these services to expand on their existing offer.
The CHANGE team has attended local childcare forums over the year. We will continue to do this in the next year of our project and we will offer additional support to some services in key areas. This will include the tests of change being carried out by the CHANGE Hub and helping providers to develop other aspects of their service including the use of social media.