Interview - Vicki Lant, head of Children's Centre Development,Barnardo's

Barnardo's began offering parents free childcare training in October through its ABC Pathway Programme, funded by the Department for Education.

What are the aims of the programme?

Barnardo's is offering parents who want to get back in employment, or change their employment, the chance to train as childcarers. We also hope it will improve the provision of high-quality affordable childcare for working parents. The course will start parents' journeys towards becoming childminders or providing care in other settings.

What does the course offer?

The course is currently run in Barnardo's children's centres and lasts for three months. In that time, an ABC Champion will work with small groups of parents to cover a CACHE-accredited module. This has seven elements, after which parents can register with Ofsted.

The elements are legislation, policies and procedures; creating a healthy and safe environment; partnership with parents, child development; the Early Years Foundation Stage and play-based approaches; and safeguarding.

We introduce these topics to parents through face-to-face sessions at the children's centre. Parents then complete online activities at home through a programme we have developed with our online partner, Laser Learning. Parents then return to the centre to go though what they've learned.

When they've completed the course, parents can register with Ofsted. We'll encourage them to continue training up to Level 3. The ABC Champions will always be on-hand at the centre to support them. We'll also offer parents the chance to volunteer with Barnardo's.

How do parents get involved?

We have been promoting the programme to parents during children's centre activities. We then offer interested people a briefing session, which includes a video about the programme, followed by a one-to-one discussion. We go into detail about what the course entails to make sure parents don't drop out further down the line.

How is it going so far?

It's currently in pilot phase. We've started small to make sure we're doing things right. So far, we have about two groups of about six people in four regions. But for the next round we hope to have around 90 people taking part.

How will the programme develop?

The number of regions will grow to eight in the second year. Our aim is for up to 800 parents to complete the course, which could create about 3,000 more childcare places.

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