Based on evidence that when it comes to choosing childcare, parents are more likely to trust other parents than professionals, the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area (OA) are launching a new Parent Champions pilot programme.
Developed by Coram Family and Childcare to help marginalised or isolated parents who miss out on vital information about the local services available to families, such as childcare and other early years services, the Parent Champions programme is delivered by parents for parents, with the support of Cambridgeshire Early Years and Childcare service (CambsEYC).
Who are Parent Champions
Parent Champions are parent volunteers who give a few hours a week to talk to other parents about how to access organisations that could best help them, like a local children’s centre or a Family Information Service. By sharing their own experiences of using a local service for their children, Parent Champions can build relationships/trust with other parents, encourage them to make the best of the available help, and ease any worries or concerns they may have – Training, and direction will be provided.
What Parent Champions do
Here are some things you can expect to do as a Parent Champion:
- Talk with a parent or small group about your positive experience of using nurseries, stay and play groups or other local services.
- Answer questions about how you and your child felt about using childcare or other services and about how you dealt with any issues you faced.
- Explain what the benefits of childcare and other services can be to parents who may not be aware or may have a negative view of childcare.
- Inform parents where to get advice and information about finding and using childcare and how to get involved in their child’s early education.
- Set up or help at information sessions or at open days for parents.
Benefits for volunteers
- Builds volunteers’ confidence and transferable skills
- Creates a pathway to training and employment
- Provides opportunities for volunteers to give back to their communities
- Make close friends working within a team of like-minded people
The Parent Champions programme has transformed the lives of families across the UK as well as the lives of Parent Champions volunteers.
Benefits for families
- Raises parents’ awareness of early years education, childcare, and local family services, improving their children’s outcomes
- Increases access to free early education for two, three and four-year-olds
- Brings families into children’s centres and other community settings
- Allows families to be involved in the development of local services
- Works to support minority groups and their engagement with services
By connecting parents with the local services that can help, you will be making a vital contribution to the lives of families you come across and to your wider community.
Benefits for the community
- Raises parents' awareness of childcare and local family services, including those from minority groups
- Increases access to childcare for under 5-year-olds
- Helps shape family services in your local area
The pilot programme will focus its initial run within the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire OA with six to eight volunteers, who will typically spend around five hours a week meeting parents. Upon evaluation the programme may then be rolled out countywide.
Become a Parent Champion
To become a volunteer, please complete the application form, and return to Sarah.Storey@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.