Principles drafted for children's centre outreach services

Sue Learner
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Every children's centre outreach service could soon have to comply with a set of core principles and standards, under draft plans by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

All Sure Start children's centres, and especially those in very disadvantaged areas, must offer outreach and home visiting services.

The draft document states that 'principles, standards and skills' will ensure children's centres provide an 'effective and comprehensive outreach service' that 'meets the diverse needs of different families and communities'.

It stresses a focus on outcomes and 'this means being clear about why outreach is being undertaken, and how it will improve outcomes for young children and their families.'

Ros Bagnall, co-coordinator and senior family support worker at Prudhoe Children's Centre in Northumberland, said, 'The draft recognises the breadth of the work done by outreach staff, from transport for a doctor's appointment to safeguarding issues. It confirms how key these staff are in bringing into centres the families most reluctant to engage but often most in need of support and services.

'It also recognises the special skills the job demands, including personalising support to each family, the ability to be able to develop positive supportive relationships with families who have complex and challenging lives, and recognising when support is needed to prevent situations escalating to a more concerning level.

'There is recognition for workers to be aware of the needs of the whole family, including extended members - issues cannot be looked at in isolation, and families may require support from a number of agencies. Good partnership working is seen as a vital tool for safe effective practice.

'The outreach worker is the face of the centre in the local community, especially in more rural isolated communities such as ours, to both families and fellow professionals. The work is of immense importance, hugely challenging at times, but also hugely rewarding.'

 


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