Parent and Toddler Good Practice Guide - MU

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Parent and Toddler Good Practice Guide - MU

  1. 1. TheGood Practice Guidefor Parent and Toddler GroupsBuilding Relationships - Strengthening Community
  2. 2. The Good Practice Guide for Parent and Toddler Groups:Building Relationships - Strengthening CommunityCare for the Family, The Mothers’ Union and The Salvation Army are all committed tosupporting families, and that is why they have worked collaboratively to produce thisresource. They want to support you in the valuable job you’re doing, to provide practicalguidelines about how to run a successful group and to promote the importantcontribution that parent and toddler groups make to local communities.Care for the Family aims to promote strong family life and to help those hurting becauseof family breakdown.The Mothers’ Union exists to share Christ’s love by encouraging, strengthening andsupporting marriage and family life.The Salvation Army is an international Christian church working in 109 countriesworldwide. As a registered charity, The Salvation Army demonstrates its Christianprinciples through social welfare provision and is one of the largest, most diverseproviders of social welfare in the world.Copyright © Care for the Family / The Mothers’ Union / The Salvation Army 2003All rights reserved.
  3. 3. ContentsParent and toddler groups: making a difference 5Making friends and finding support 6Leader and team: the vital factor for a successful group 8Creating a successful parent and toddler group 10What happens at the group? 12Parent and toddler groups: basic procedures 14Keeping children safe: child protection issues 17Health and safety issues 19Communicating with your group and your community 22Further support for families 24Useful contacts and resources 25The Parent and Toddler Group Charter 30Sample welcome letter/parental agreement 31Sample registration form 32Sample weekly attendance record 33 3
  4. 4. Building relationships - strengthening community Parent and toddler groups can be the only adult company that many parents and carers have during the week. Because of this, the group has a great impact on their lives; probably more than most group leaders can imagine! That’s why I’m so pleased that Care for the Family, The Mothers’ Union and The Salvation Army have worked together to produce this resource for parent and toddler groups. By doing so, they are affirming group leaders and teams across the country. These groups provide great places for parents and carers to meet and make friends. They are places where children make friends, learn and interact together too, which can’t be a bad thing! And these friendships often carry on outside the group, as families visit each other’s homes – so much better than mums sitting at home feeling isolated. Such friendships can last a lifetime. Not only do parent and toddler groups offer friendship, but they can be life-saving for families in crisis. The number of people who are helped by parent and toddler groups is endless – not only the children and parents, but also their wider families and those they meet during their day-to-day lives. So as you carry out your valuable role, do take the support that these three organisations are offering here. I’m thrilled to be asked to endorse The Good Practice Guide for Parent and Toddler Groups, and I do so with the prayer that even more parents, carers and children will ultimately benefit from its wisdom. Diane Louise Jordan TV and Radio presenter4
  5. 5. Parent and toddler groups:making a differenceThere you sit, quaking in your They can offer a lifeline to families in ‘‘ crisis, support for parents having a toughshoes, waiting in the studio of time or just dealing with theBBC2’s Newsnight programme. ongoing demands of children. Our parent and toddlerYou’re going to be interviewed group isn’t just a morning Groups can be a starting point to go session to me, it’s aby Jeremy Paxman or one of forward, maybe branching out into lifestyle. The familiesthose other interviewers they parenting groups and other supportive that come to my groupgrace with that terrifying courses. They offer a surrogate, or extended, family to the families that are important to meadjective ‘incisive’. attend. because they are part of the community in which IYou’re being interviewed because you are Ultimately, parent and toddler groups live. We go out forgoing to start a parent and toddler group – make a great contribution to the life of meals, watch videos; Ior perhaps you’re already running one but a community. invite them to parentingyou want to make it even better. And this groups and church. I‘incisive’ interviewer is going to fix you with Care for the Family, The Mothers’ Union really want to help buildhis penetrating stare and his raised and The Salvation Army are all committed my community, andeyebrow and ask: “What’s so special about to supporting families, and that is why they parent and toddler is a ’’parent and toddler groups?” have worked collaboratively to produce natural way of meeting this resource. They want to support you inHere are some great responses: the valuable job you’re doing, to provide families. practical guidelines about how to run a Cathy, group leader Parent and toddler groups provide a safe successful group and to promote the and happy environment for children to important contribution that parent and play, learn and interact. toddler groups make to local communities. They provide a welcoming place for all parents and carers to make friends and feel supported. Groups can be the basis for developing long-lasting relationships for young families looking for friendship and support. 5
  6. 6. Making friends and finding support It’s a typical morning at parent William loves the range of activities he can do – and all in 90 minutes.” She smiles, and toddler group and the‘‘ and adds: “For me, having a cup of tea happy chatter of busy children made for me and eating ‘nice’ biscuits isSome young mums live can be heard around the craft such a treat.”miles away from theirown mothers. Sometimes table, as they make friends with Elsewhere in the room, while theirthey just want to ask for each other and with the team. children play happily with the train set, The children are cutting and Elizabeth and Pauline swap notes about thethe tiniest piece of advice lifeline offered by the group.in passing. At other colouring animals to fit into a ’’times, it’s a long heartto heart. giant ark. “I like coming here as much as Thomas – it keeps him happy, so it keeps me happy!”Margaret Josh is keen to pass on his news: “I’ve come says Elizabeth. “I’ve found the help and with Grandad today because Mummy has support from this group has helped me gone to Tesco to get our new baby!” through some tough times.” The parents, carers and team members “Parent and toddler has been a lifeline to around the table join with Josh in his me,” admits Pauline, encouraged to speak excitement, and exchange a knowing smile up by hearing that someone else has been with his grandad. “My daughter’s due to through tough times too. “I suffered from have her third next month,” says a postnatal depression and it was actually grandmother who has brought ‘the other Joanne, the group leader, who encouraged two’ to the group. The two grandparents me to seek help. Then she helped some start to discuss their role as part-time more, by babysitting and sometimes even carers for their children’s children. cooking us a meal.” As they help their children to cut out the Joanne, passing behind the women as they animals, Kate and Emma are making friends talk, smiles to hear Pauline opening up to with a new mother who has come to the another mother. A sign of a good recovery, group for the first time. she thinks, as she goes into the kitchen, where another team member is pouring “I first came here so Sarah could learn to the children’s drinks in preparation for story mix with other children,” Kate explains. time. Joanne has heard so many painful “And it was a way for us to meet new stories from parents and carers, and it people when we moved to the area. Many makes her happy every time she sees them of my close friends now are the people I’ve overcoming their difficulties. met through the group.” Take Nadia, for example – such a bright “I came here for my sake!” laughs Emma. and intelligent woman, yet obviously “I wanted to get out of the house and see weighed down by some hidden problem. other adults – life with a three- and one- She didn’t want to join in much; she even year-old can sometimes be tedious. Now, refused to join the rota of parents who helped clear away the toys. 6
  7. 7. It was only after a year, when she said she The refreshments are ready, so Joannewouldn’t be coming any more, that Joanne gathers children, parents and carers ‘‘found out a little of her story. She had been together. Juice and biscuits are handed outgoing through a crisis in her marriage and to the seated children, and Joanne opensfelt she just wanted to attend, but not take the book. I went along to myon any responsibility. “But I’m so grateful parent and toddler groupfor the support,” she said, “and now I’m “Our story today,” she begins, “is all about looking for a place to findhappier and I feel able to give something a man called Noah…..” companionship and forback. I want to share something of what my children to meetI’ve received from you.” She intended to other children. I endedget involved in a group closer to her home up joining a parentingand offer to help there, even when her son group and going along tono longer attended. the church with the people who went to my group. I really got more than I bargained for. It ’’ was great – my life is completely different now. Claire 7
  8. 8. Leader and team: the vital factor for a successful group As leader, you will probably be Invest in your team Meet socially outside the group setting; the one who carries the vision‘‘ have at least an annual social outing. Talk for the group and makes together as you work, and build up theirI do feel the weight of decisions about the day-to-day confidence with heaps of praise. Supportresponsibility sometimes. them and allow them to support you, too. running. Your role is toBut I’m so delighted bythe people I meet, and maintain standards and to Welcome feedback from your team; oversee the team, the session encourage them to pass on their ideas andby the impact we have concerns, and take seriously what they say.on people. I really think and the future of the group. ’’ Be aware that they may be having difficultit’s worth it. My team You will be keen to make your issues to deal with in their own lives, someans so much to me. listen sympathetically if they want to talk, group an excellent one with a and remember to keep asking how thingsJackie, group leader good reputation. are progressing. Ideally, a regular, reliable team is an If you have few team members and feel important part of a parent and toddler slightly overwhelmed, a rota of parents and group. Therefore, try to find people from carers might be a good way of ensuring all age groups and walks of life, who share everyone takes a turn in doing a particular your vision. Allow them to use their gifts job. Asking them to participate in this way for the benefit of the group, whether makes parents and carers feel they are through craft activities or excellent listening essential parts of the group. And who skills. Some will have faced difficulties in life knows, one of them may become a valued that will enable them to empathise with a member of your team in the future. group member, such as bereavement, infertility or postnatal depression. Support for you You should also try to find someone outside the group to support you so that you don’t become overwhelmed with the responsibility of group leader. This might be a family member, close friend or, if your group is affiliated to a church, the minister or leader. Some parent and toddler groups have a management group which shares the decision-making and care for the team. The management group should give clear guidelines and information to the team, supporting them at all times. 8
  9. 9. Know your boundaries parent does nothing about it, it isDon’t take on burdens that are not yours. legitimate for you to step in and talk with ‘‘If a member of your group needs further the passive parent. Explain that it is in thesupport, you are not responsible for best interest of the group for them toproviding it. But you can point them in the intervene in their child’s behaviour. We have great funright direction. If your group is part of a together. We oftenchurch, you will probably have links locally Do your best! combine cleaning toysto a vast array of skills, life experiences and There are a huge variety of parent and and then going outprojects that you can draw on. Further toddler groups across the country, buthelp is available from the organisations your group is unique. Whatever its size together; we have alisted on pages 24-27. and however long it has been running, great time. It’d be even ’’ you are aiming to do the best you can. better if we didn’t haveParents and carers are responsible for Always be on the lookout for new ways to clean the toys!their children at all times. You are, forward, but don’t be put off if you can’t Chris, team memberhowever, responsible for anything that is achieve everything that is recommendedin the best interest of the whole group. in this resource – for example, if you don’tSo, for example, if you have an ongoing have the money to buy so muchproblem of one parent telling off other equipment. You will be valued for whopeople’s children, take the parent aside you are by the people who come to yourand explain that everyone is responsible group. And you are providing a valuablefor their own, not other people’s children. service to the community.If one child is hurting another and their Remember! • Gather together a good team with a variety of skills • Invest in your team • Find someone to support you • Know your boundaries • Be on the lookout for new ways forward • Make use of resources 9
  10. 10. Creating a successful parent and toddler group Give a genuine welcome Some will come purely so that their child At the heart of a good group are people can play with other children, but others are‘‘ who draw others back time and time again. hoping for much more than that. They may Always make sure everyone is given a be looking for friendship, advice, or timeOne mother came who genuine welcome, so that they will feel with other adults. Your group can be awas married to an secure and more likely to return for a place where they find sincere people whooverseas student. She second visit. have a true concern for them.barely spoke ourlanguage and we didn’t Make your point of registration friendly Nurture all who come to your group and informal. Give out an introductory Cherish the parents, carers and children inspeak hers, but we got leaflet or letter (see page 31 for details). your group by letting them know they arealong very well. She was If you have several members on your special. You are providing security and lovetearful when the family team, one member should welcome and for the children, as well as the opportunityreturned home. She said another should take each new person to play and develop social skills.she would really miss us. through to show them the fire exits, toiletsThe group had meant so and changing facilities, and introduce them You can provide encouragement formuch to her when she to others. parents who may be experiencing a time ofwas in a strange country low self esteem. Parents and carers will feel ’’with only her children for Aim to introduce them to one or two of that they are an essential part of the groupcompany. your most friendly group members who if they are encouraged to help in its will include them in conversations and smooth running. Encourage them toLynn activities. It can be difficult for newcomers befriend newcomers; ask them to assist to remember more than a couple of with craft activities or to help in tidying names on their first visit. away equipment. Always remember to If possible, have a comfortable chair for pregnant mums so they do not have to sit on a tiny children’s chair for the whole session. Extend your warmth beyond the first session However friendly you are on that first meeting, you will need to keep it up! It will take a few sessions for a newcomer to feel at home. Aim to remember the child’s name and something about the parent/carer. 10
  11. 11. thank them for any contribution they have for them. Don’t try to do it yourself! If yourmade and involve them by means of group is affiliated to a church, the church ‘‘consultation. Listen to their suggestions may be able to offer resources forregarding the running of the group. counselling, help and care. Details of other organisations which provide further help I come to parent andOffer a listening ear can be found on pages 24-27. toddler because theIf a parent or carer is experiencing difficult people that run it are ’’circumstances, you (or someone in your Be the place where real friendships fun. They seemteam) may be the person they need to talk are made interested in me.to. Don’t undervalue the impact of Ultimately, the parent and toddler group islistening, and remember that listening is not a place where real friendships can begin; Nickgiving advice or making judgements. By some just for the short term and othersstepping in too quickly with advice you can more lasting. It’s a two-way thing! Not onlystop people opening up any further. will parents and carers find friendship, butListening attentively and giving people your the team will discover new friends too!time can, in many cases, be as much as Consider it a privilege to serve those whopeople need. come through your doors.Some people may require more than alistening ear, so attempt to find more help Remember! • Give a genuine welcome • Extend your warmth beyond the first session • Nurture all who come to your group • Offer a listening ear • Be the place where real friendships are made 11
  12. 12. What happens at the group? All parent and toddler groups Make cards for Mothering Sunday and Fathers Day – but be sensitive as not all are unique and you will find children live with both parents. the right structure to suit yours. The following Make animal faces out of paper plates and tell the story of Noah’s Ark at programme is a sample of a story time. typical session which, if you wish, can be adapted to Decorate biscuits to eat on children’s birthdays. meet the needs of the parents/carers in your group. Story time Encourage parents to listen to the story The average time a group runs is two along with the children; this will help the hours, but the time limit is up to you as children to understand that story time is team leader. not a time to talk. Serve drinks and biscuits to the children while they are sitting down. Welcome and registration An important occasion – see page 10 Happy birthday ‘Creating a successful parent and toddler If a child in your group is celebrating his/her group’. birthday, sing Happy Birthday at the end of the story. You could have special biscuits, Unstructured beginning an artificial cake with candles, or a birthday Have available toys such as the train set, cars board (a notice board with a list of the and story area so children can play freely children’s birthdays for that week, with while their parents/carers chat with each birthday cards on and a ‘happy birthday’ other and with team members. Do not banner across the top). have sit and ride toys available at this stage. Free play for the children; tea/coffee Craft table for parents/carers A craft table can operate throughout the While the children play freely, serve hot morning, allowing the parents/carers and drinks with biscuits to parents/carers. Ensure children to come and go. It provides a the children are safe from the hot drinks. good place for parents/carers to chat to a team member while helping their child Sit and ride toys with the activity. As it nears the end of the session, it is a good time for children to play on the sit and Your activity could tie in with the story you ride toys, thus enabling them to let off tell or mark significant dates in the calendar. steam before they go home. A safe area for For example: the babies, which must always be available, is particularly important at this time. Make decorations which you can use on the Christmas tree at the parent and toddler Christmas party; tell the story of the nativity at story time.12
  13. 13. Song time and notices Link the song and the craft activity, whereAsk parents/carers to join in with their possible. For example, if your activity was ‘‘children, and sit everyone in a circle. Ask making animal faces, you could sing ‘Whodifferent children for their favourite song, built the ark? – Noah, Noah’. For details ofand sing three or four of these before further resources, see page 26 or contact During story time I wasfinishing with one song; many groups finish your own organisation. reading The Three Littlewith the same song each week to mark the Pigs: ‘… and so the pigend of the session. The end of song time is a good opportunity went up to the man with to hand out notices for the following week the wheelbarrow full ofIf you are a Christian group, include a faith- or future events. straw and asked if hebased song or prayer during the song time. could have some straw to build his house..’. ’’ ‘Don’t be silly!’ shouted Isaac. ‘Pigs can’t talk!’ Lynn Remember! • Welcome and registration for all visitors • Unstructured beginning to the session • Have an ongoing craft table with a structured activity • Tell a story and give the children a drink • Sing Happy Birthday when appropriate • More play time and drinks for the adults • Time to sit and ride • Song time and give out notices 13
  14. 14. Parent and toddler groups: basic procedures Before the meeting therefore unable to eat certain biscuits. These details should be given on the‘‘ registration form, and a further note made in the daily register when the childrenI really love it when Registration form arrive. Of course, parents/carers arepeople say we are the New parents/carers joining your group responsible for what their children eat andbest group in the town. should fill in a registration form. You will drink, but it is helpful for the whole team to ’’ find a sample form on page 32. You may be aware of the needs.We’ve got a waiting list wish to use the contact details supplied toto prove it’s true! produce an address list for the Accident bookJennie parents/carers involved in the group. If a child or parent has an accident while at the group, it must be recorded in an Data protection declaration: A statement accident book. The details needed are the should be made on the form about how time, the type of injury, the first aid the information supplied on it will be administered and whether or not a visit to stored and used and who will have access the doctor or hospital was necessary. The to it. The person completing the form parent/carer should sign to show that what must be asked to give their written consent you have recorded is acceptable to them. for the information to be used in the ways Keep the accident book in a place where indicated. The information supplied must any member of your team can find it easily. not be used for any purpose other than those stipulated. For further advice, contact Your organisation may have its own official your organisation. accident book; if not, you can order one from your local branch of WHSmith (see Please note: Salvation Army groups are page 26). required to use the official Salvation Army Data Protection Notice on all registration forms. Weekly attendance record In addition to the registration form you need to keep a weekly attendance record. This allows you to keep track of every team member, visitor, parent/carer and child that is on the premises during each session. This is necessary if you have to evacuate the premises in the event of a fire. Medical conditions/allergy record It is essential (and can be life-saving) to maintain a record of children’s medical conditions (eg asthma, epilepsy), and allergies. It is also important to record special dietary requirements. For example, some children may have a milk or nut allergy; others may be vegetarians and 14
  15. 15. Incident book InsuranceKeeping a record of other incidents, such Your group must have insurance cover inas two children persistently fighting, or a case an adult or child is hurt. Check withchild damaging property, is also advisable. your own organisation about the nature of the cover automatically provided forMoney matters groups running under their auspices, andIf you are running a Salvation Army or assess whether this cover is appropriate.Mothers’ Union group, seek advice fromyour organisation about how to deal with If you are running an independent group,financial matters, and their approach to check whether the building in which youcharging parents. If your group is an meet has its own insurance – it is likely thatindependent one, work out the costs you will be covered if you meet in churchinvolved and decide how you are going to premises, for example. If not, there aremeet them. For example, you may decide insurance policies available for parent andto apply for local grants. Decide what your toddler groups which can also cover theft.charging policy will be; some groups leave Keep an inventory of what you have anda bowl out for donations, others have a what it costs to replace the items listed.fixed charge. If you are planning trips away from theIf you open a bank account and keep premises, the leader should take positiverecords of the money coming in and out, steps to promote safety and ensureyou should have two signatories. If you proper precautions are taken to preventhave a Management Committee, keep accidents. Particular thought should bethem informed as to how the money given to additional insurance and childis used. protection procedures.If a parent or carer genuinely can’t pay, Child protection/health and safety don’t penalise them. What you do if These vital subjects have been given their someone won’t pay is at your own sections on pages 17-21. discretion. You could explain to them what the fee covers (such as room hire, refreshments, insurance, On the day purchase of good quality Open up and prepare toys). Explain that the Keys may need to be collected from and fee is not for profit; returned to the owner or caretaker of your any money left over premises; ensure you know whose will be ploughed responsibility this is each week. Arrive in back into making the good time to set out the toys and check group even better. room safety. If someone still refuses to pay, it is Team numbers legitimate to consider Make sure there are enough team refusing them a place members to cover all necessary jobs – in the group. including making the refreshments. 15
  16. 16. Register volunteers available to assist, the size of the It is essential to keep track of all space available, and how many children parents/carers and children who are on the you judge can play safely with the toys that premises at any group meeting. A you provide. Take advice from your local nominated team member should be Fire Officer if you are in doubt. available to take the register, and if anyone In areas of high demand, group leaders leaves during the session, this also should sometimes enrol parents/carers in advance, be noted in the register. In the event of a and start a waiting list. Experience has fire, the nominated person can then shown that usual attendance is around reliably inform the fire service of any 70% of those that enrol. people left in the building. The group leader is responsible for Number limit deciding the maximum number that can be There are no fixed rules about how many safely accommodated, and for (tactfully!) adults or children can attend. The number turning away anyone who arrives after that will be determined by the number of maximum number has been reached. Remember! • Prepare a registration form • Keep a record of medical conditions, allergies etc • Use an accident book and incident book • Manage your money • Put in place relevant insurance • Open up and prepare the room • Have enough people on the team • Keep a register • Decide and implement number limit16
  17. 17. Keeping children safe:child protection issuesIt is vital that all parent and If you are running an independent group and have no child protectiontoddler groups have an ‘‘ policy, several agencies offer freeup-to-date child protection advice. The Churches Child Protection Advisory Service offers outline policies Having a child protectionpolicy in place. The notes on which can be adapted to meet the policy in operation willthis page do not constitute a needs of specific activities. See page 25 help to safeguard thechild protection policy but for contact details. most vulnerable inserve to emphasise the need society – the under fives, ’’ All policies will include guidelines about the too small to protectto have one. selection process of volunteers who will themselves. come into direct contact with children. AnEveryone concerned in any activity that important part of this process is to ensure David Pearson,involves children (irrespective of whether that they do not have a record of child Executive Director,their parents or carers are present) must abuse, or other serious criminal offence, The Churches Childadhere to an up-to-date child protection which would make it inappropriate for Protection Advisorypolicy. All team members need to receive them to work in this environment. Servicetraining in child protection issues, have acopy of the policy, and agree to implement Applications for these checks have to beit. Child protection policies should be submitted to the Criminal Records Bureaureviewed annually. (CRB), the government agency set up to administer the scheme, through aThis is for the safety and protection of the registered body. The result of each checkchildren – and for your own protection is called a ‘disclosure’. Your childas a team. protection policy will include details of how to assess each voluntary role in orderWritten information should be given to to determine which should be subject toparents and carers, telling them about the these checks.policy and the specific measures taken toensure the safety of the children. A copy of Other important issues which childthe child protection policy should be protection policies should cover include:displayed clearly while your group is insession. Arrangements for ongoing support structures for volunteers. For details of Mothers’ Union diocesan child protection policies and Practical procedures for keeping procedures, contact your diocesan children safe. trustee group or MU staff at Mary Sumner House. See page 24 for Definitions of the different types of contact details. abuse. Salvation Army groups should adhere to Information about signs and symptoms the Safe and Sound policy. See page 24 of abuse. for contact details. 17
  18. 18. Instructions about what to do if abuse the toilet should be undertaken by the is suspected or reported, including the child’s own parent or carer. name of the person to contact if specialist advice is needed. The taking and use of photographs in your group needs to comply with the Data Children with special needs. Protection Act. Parent and toddler groups must have written permission from the Sometimes urgent and immediate action is parents/carers of the children (even if there required. In that case, those present should are 35 children in one photograph) to say do what they can to protect the child, and that they are happy with the photographs should themselves contact the area Social being used. In the agreement letter you Services Child Protection Team or the should set out where and when the Police Child Protection Team. As soon as photographs will be used – for example in possible afterwards they should inform the a newsletter, on a website, on a flyer person named in their policy as their advertising your group. contact in regard to concerns relating to child protection issues. Because parents/carers are the primary carers, parent and toddler groups are At parent and toddler groups, not required by law to have any parents/carers are the primary care-givers involvement with Social Services, but it is for their children while at the group. It is helpful to maintain a good relationship with important that they understand this. Nappy them and keep them informed of your changes and supervising children’s visits to group’s activities. Remember! • Adhere to an up-to-date child protection policy • Protect the children in your care – as well as yourself and your team • Team members should be trained in child protection issues • Review your policy annually • Provide parents/carers with written information about your policy • Display the policy while the group is in session • Obtain permission before taking or using photographs • It is ESSENTIAL that these safeguards are put in place18
  19. 19. Health and safety issuesFire safety 2 18cm x 18cm individually-wrappedInvite your local Fire Officer to visit the sterile unmedicated wound dressings. ‘‘place where your group meets. This mightbe the manager of the building you use for 1 pair disposable gloves.your group. S/he will be up to date with The parent and toddlerfire safety regulations, and will be able to You should not keep tablets or medicines group was a life-saver. Itgive instruction about fire exits and how to in the first aid box. was the only real outlet Ipractice a fire drill. The Fire Officer will also had to meet with othercheck the fire extinguishers in the building At least one qualified first aider must be people in the same ’’are of the correct type and in good available at each session. Contact St John position as me. I madeworking order. All fire extinguishers must Ambulance for details of first aid courses in some good friends there.be regularly maintained. your area (see page 26 for details). AnneMake sure parents know who on your team Keep at hand a list of telephone numbersis responsible in the event of an emergency. of local doctors and hospitals. You shouldThis would usually be the group leader and be within reach of a telephone in case ofin their absence, their deputy. emergency. If you are in a building that has a phone system you may have to dial 9 forOn page 27 you will find spaces to write an outside line (9-999 in emergency). If adetails of your local emergency telephone telephone is not available, make surenumbers. Make it a priority to fill them in. someone has a mobile phone, or knows where to find the nearest public phone.First aidA well-stocked first aid box is essential and Venue safety and securityshould be accessible but out of the reach of Check the room you use before eachchildren. As a guide, a basic box should session, making sure previous users haveinclude the following items, and should be left nothing unsafe behind.restocked regularly: Find a secure place for buggies and prams. A leaflet giving general guidance on first Leaving them in the entrance halls aid (eg Health Service Executive leaflet compromises security and blocks the exit in Basic Advice on First Aid at Work). the event of emergency. You may need to invest in some bicycle locks if you are 20 individually-wrapped sterile adhesive unable to shut them away. dressings (assorted sizes). Doors should never be dead-locked in 2 sterile eye pads. case of an emergency. 4 individually-wrapped sterile triangular Safety covers should be plugged into all bandages. sockets. If you have heaters, use fire guards; if you have stairs, use stair-gates. If 6 safety pins. there is no door between the kitchen and meeting room, use a stair-gate to prevent 6 12cm x 12cm individually-wrapped children gaining access. sterile unmedicated wound dressings. 19
  20. 20. Hygiene Discourage gifts of second-hand toys and All toilets and nappy changing areas need check the safety of toys children bring in‘‘ to be checked for cleanliness. All cleaning from home. products must be kept in a lockedWe had a great time cupboard. Toys provided should be appropriate to thewhen a fire-fighter different age groups and varying stages ofcame to do a fire safety If there is not a facility to dispose of child development. Your local Earlytalk. He came in his nappies safely, ask parents and carers to Learning Centre should give 10 per centuniform – the children take them home for disposal. Ideally, discount to parent and toddler group ’’loved it. It was great for disposable nappies should be burned, or leaders; proof of charitable status isthe carers too! put into two bags and tied securely, required. See page 27 for details. before disposing of them.Linda, team member The following list of suggested toys and Equipment and toys equipment will encourage physical, When buying toys, ensure they all carry the intellectual, emotional and social relevant symbols of safety and quality. Look development. Don’t be discouraged by the for one or more of the following symbols: length of the list; start with a small number of good quality items. CE mark For babies under 12 months: Baby chairs Lion Mark Rattles Soft toys BATR mark Mobiles Musical instruments eg bells, shakers, tambourines Consider how the equipment you buy will fit into the space available. The layout of For toddlers aged 12 – 24 months: the equipment is important and careful Books consideration should be given to: Paper and colouring pencils Having a safe area for babies. Building blocks Adequate storage. Toy buggies Wheelie toys The importance of children being visible Sit and ride toys at all times (such as the use of transparent playhouses). Protective sheets for painting and play dough area Care should be taken that fingers are not Painting overalls trapped when children are using sit and Finger paints (non-toxic) ride toys. Climbing frame with safety mat Toys should be regularly checked, Cushions/beanbags for reading maintained and cleaned. Broken toys corner/puzzle area should be disposed of immediately. Wooden jigsaw puzzles 20
  21. 21. For children aged 2-3 years: Construction toys eg Sticklebricks, Duplo Dolls’ house, garage Wheelie toys and bikes Playhouse Glue stick for craft activities Remember! • Put fire safety precautions in place • Fill in local emergency numbers • Keep an up-to-date first aid box • Have a qualified first-aider at all sessions • Be near a telephone • Check safety of the room before all sessions • Keep buggies secure and away from entrance • Maintain cleanliness and lock up cleaning equipment • Use stairgates and fireguards • Dispose of nappies with care • Buy toys with safety symbols • Clean and check toys regularly • Provide a safe area for babies • Keep children in sight at all times 21
  22. 22. Communicating with your group and your community Be inclusive copy on the wall of your venue – this Many groups have now moved away from declared intention will motivate you and the name ‘Mothers and Toddlers’, but the your team to offer the best service you can‘‘ name ‘Parent and Toddler’ is still not a at all times.One of the health totally inclusive title. State clearly in all yourvisitors in the town literature that everyone is welcome – Welcome letter mums, dads, grandparents and carers. All Prepare a welcome letter or introductoryrecommends our group adult carers are in a parental role when leaflet. Make it friendly and informative,to new mums, especially they are at the group. However, if you are keeping in mind that it is for new membersthose who are a bit low. running an ‘exclusive’ group – a group for on their first visit, so it should cover all thePeople come here single mums under eighteen, for example – basic information they need to know. ’’because it makes such a clearly state this. Include, for example:difference to their lives.Sharon Mention in your literature that the group is The days and times of opening. also for babies, and is appropriate for children up to school age (although usually Any changes in meeting times during children leave at three years to go to school holidays. playgroup or nursery school). Contact name and telephone number If you are a faith-based group you should of group leader. make that clear, but explain that you extend a welcome to people from different Health and safety issues such as areas religious backgrounds and ethnic groups. allocated for pushchairs. Ensure people with disabilities know they are welcome. But do make it clear if An explanation of how parents/carers can wheelchair access is not available in the pass on comments or complaints to you building you use. Any concerns you have and the team. Let them know “this is your about accessibility should be referred to group and we welcome your input”. the owner of the premises you use. Parental agreement Some groups choose to call themselves by As part of your welcome letter, or as a a different name (such as Stepping Stones, separate leaflet, set out parents’/carers’ Sparklers, Busy Bees, Tiddlers). These responsibilities. Your letter could read, names are chosen in an attempt to for example: emphasise that the group is not exclusively for parents and toddlers, and also to It is important that every member of the engage children and build in an identity to group feels relaxed, supported, safe and the group. secure – and has fun – while they are here. May we remind you that when you Group charter register each week you are agreeing to On page 30 you will find a photocopiable follow a few simple ground rules that will sheet entitled The Parent and Toddler Group help us enjoy our time together: Charter. This sets out the aims of a group, and shows that you endeavour for Your child’s safety, the way s/he relates excellence in all that you do. Display a to and plays with other children, are 22
  23. 23. your responsibility. So if s/he’s about to ‘ongoing’ information and which could be throw a brick – intervene! distributed via doctors’ surgeries, playgroups ‘‘ and libraries. In addition to the essential If another parent expresses concern standard information included in the about an action of yours or your child’s, welcome letter, it could include details of: Not surprisingly, I was in listen graciously. Explore each other’s a minority as the only point of view, even if you don’t agree, Parenting courses or other activities that dad. I actually felt very or feel you have been misunderstood. you run or can recommend. special. The children ’’ Stay friends! loved having a man Fund-raising events, summer outings Appreciate the team members who are and Christmas parties. around. here to organise and facilitate the Dave group, but who are also part of our Where and when the group meets, group family. what it costs and who can come, written in the languages spoken in the area. Look after, and encourage your children to look after, the room, the equipment Get recommendations and each other, and take care with You could arrange to meet with local drinks, buggies and belongings. Health Visitors or the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) in order to getAbove all – have fun and enjoy being recommendations. People more readilytogether! choose services when they are recommended by people they respect. ThisSee page 31 for a sample combined could be a more effective way to advertisewelcome letter and agreement; you could your group than handing out leaflets.adapt this to suit your group.NewsletterYou might like to produce an occasionalnewsletter which could provide more Remember! • Make sure EVERYONE knows they are welcome • State clearly if you run an ‘exclusive’ group • Display the Parent and Toddler Group Charter • Write a welcome letter • Prepare a parental agreement • Produce a newsletter • Get recommendations 23
  24. 24. Further support for families Through your parent and toddler group, you are already helping The Mothers’ Union many of your group members 24 Tufton Street more than you will know. You London SW1P 3RB may be inspired to take your Tel: 020 7222 5533 support one step further – such Fax: 020 7222 1591 as offering parenting groups or Email: mu@themothersunion.org Web: www.themothersunion.org other activities, or locating Registered charity no: 240531 sources of help for families with The Mothers’ Union promotes the well- particular needs. being of families worldwide through the provision of practical projects established All three organisations that have produced by volunteers within local communities. In The Good Practice Guide for Parent and the UK and Ireland, the MU facilitates a Toddler Groups have resources and support national network of parenting groups, networks offering further help. provides a range of support for families and produces resources on issues important to Care for the Family parents. To register for a free copy of the Garth House, Leon Avenue, MU’s email newsletter, visit our website. Taffs Well, Cardiff CF15 7YY The Salvation Army Tel: 029 2081 0800 Adult and Family Ministries Unit Fax: 029 2081 4089 101 Newington Causeway Email: Playtime@cff.org.uk London Web: www.careforthefamily.org.uk SE1 6BN Registered charity no: 1066905 Tel: 020 7367 4956 Fax: 020 7367 4711 Care for the Family produces a free email Email: afm@salvationarmy.org.uk newsletter for leaders of parent and Web: www.salvationarmy.org.uk toddler groups, providing encouragement Registered charity no: 214779 and an opportunity to share ideas and inspiration. Other activities include family- The Salvation Army provides a number of building breaks for helping parents and their specialised services including Family children to grow closer, special networks Tracing, Marriage Guidance, Residential for single parent families and those who Family Centres for families at risk and have suffered the loss of a child. Community Homes offering professional child care. Many Salvation Army Corps (Churches) have a community outreach programme giving practical support and assistance to families, plus a wide range of activities across the age spectrum. Arrangements can be made for infants to be dedicated (christened).24
  25. 25. Useful contacts and resourcesChild protectionCriminal Records Bureau Churches Child Protection AdvisoryPO Box 110 Service (CCPAS)Liverpool PO Box 133L3 6ZZ SwanleyInformation line: 0870 90 90 811 KentRegistration application line: BR8 7UQ0870 90 90 822 Tel: 0845 120 4550Application line: 0870 90 90 844 Fax: 0845 120 4552Minicom: 0870 90 90 344 Helpline: 0845 120 4551Web: www.disclosure.gov.uk Email: info@ccpas.co.uk Web: www.childprotection.infoNSPCCWeston House Produces Guidance for Churches, a42 Curtain Road comprehensive guide to child protectionLondon issues which includes model policies,EC2A 3NH sample forms and contracts and helpfulTel: 020 7825 2500 best practice guidelines. CCPAS review andFax: 020 7825 2525 comment on draft child protection policies,Email: infounit@nspcc.org.uk offer training throughout the UKWeb: www.nspcc.org.uk and operate a 24 hour seven day helpline. 25
  26. 26. Pre-School Learning Alliance Parentalk National Centre 115 Southwark Bridge Road 69 Kings Cross Road London London SE1 0AX WC1X 9LL Tel: 020 7450 9073 Tel: 020 7833 0991 Fax: 020 7450 9060 Fax: 020 7837 4942 ISDN: 020 7378 6593 Email: pla@pre-school.org.uk Email: info@parentalk.co.uk Web: www.pre-school.org.uk Web: www.parentalk.co.uk Produces an eight-session course for St John Ambulance parents who want to share their National Headquarters experiences, learn from each other and 27 St. John’s Lane discover some principles of parenting. London EC1M 4BU Family Caring Trust Tel: 08700 10 49 50 8 Ashtree Enterprise Park Fax: 08700 10 40 65 Newry Web: www.sja.org.uk Co Down Northern Ireland Tiddlywinks BT34 1BY Scripture Union Mail Order Tel: 028 3026 4174 PO Box 5148 Fax: 028 3026 9077 Milton Keynes MLO Email: office@familycaring.co.uk MK2 2YX Web: www.familycaring.co.uk Tel: 01908 856006 Produces a seven-session course for Fax: 01908 856020 parents of children up to the age of six, Email: mailorder@scriptureunion.org.uk aiming to enable parents to become more Web: www.scriptureunion.org.uk confident and learn new skills. Described as ‘the flexible resource for pre- school children and carers’, the Tiddlywinks Positive Parenting Publications books offer a user-friendly, fun introduction 2a South Street to Bible stories Gosport Hants WHSmith Retail Ltd PO12 1ES FREEPOST (sce4410) Tel: 023 9252 8787 Swindon Fax: 023 9250 1111 Wilts Email: info@parenting.org.uk SN3 3XS Web: www.parenting.org.uk Tel: 0870 444 6444 Produces a five-week course designed to Email: customer.relations@whsmith.co.uk build parents’ confidence. Web: www.whsmith.co.uk26
  27. 27. NSPCC REGIONAL ADDRESSES(address as page 25) You may find it helpful to record your ownProduces a course for parents of children local phone numbersaged 2-7, enabling parents to find positiveways of managing children’s behaviour. Police:One Parent Families255 Kentish Town Road Fire Station:LondonNW5 2LXTel: 020 7428 5400 Accident and Emergency:Fax: 020 7482 4851Email: info@oneparentfamilies.org.ukWeb: www.oneparentfamilies.org.ukMembership of this supportive organisation Early Learning Centre:is free of charge for single parents. HQ: 01793 831300 Local number:Parentline Plus520 Highgate Studios53-76 Highgate RoadKentish TownLondonNW5 1TLHelpline: 0808 800 2222Email: centraloffice@parentlineplus.org.ukWeb: www.parentlineplus.org.ukProvides freephone helpline and parentingcourses via the Parent Network Service.Also includes the National StepfamilyAssociation.Contact-A-Family209-211 City RoadLondonEC1V 1JNHelpline: 0808 808 3555Tel: 020 7608 8700Fax: 020 7608 8701Email: info@cafamily.org.ukWeb: www.cafamily.org.ukBrings together families whose childrenhave disabilities. 27
  28. 28. Sample handouts and formsThese can be photocopied/adapted for your own use
  29. 29. The Parent and Toddler Group Charter We aim to: Welcome Everyone Give a warm welcome to everyone, whatever their age, relationship to the child, culture, religious background, colour, gender or disability. Be Excellent Show excellence in all that is done in our group, from making the coffee to comforting a person in distress. At all times we try to maintain our high standards. Provide a Safe and Happy Environment Offer a safe and happy environment for the team to work with parents, carers and children. Care for our Team Value, encourage and care for every member of the team. Offer Friendship Offer true friendship to everyone who comes to our group and to create an environment where friendships can be made among our group members. Involve Parents and Carers Encourage parents and carers to assist and participate so that they will feel they are an essential part of the group.30
  30. 30. Sample welcome letter/parental agreement Dear Fiona group! John’s parent and toddler We’re really pleased you’ve joined St uld like to th the rest of the team I wo up leader, and together wi I’m Jenny Smith, your gro lp you feel part of our ha ppy group. welcome you. We’ll do all we can to he and 11.30am. ursdays between 9.30am are open on Tuesdays and Th For your information, we g school term time only. Please note tha t we run our group durin ms, buggies or ety. Please leave your pra hall free for everyone’s saf an We like to keep the entra nce when you arrive. There is m on the right hand side of the hall ve other large items in the roo ency, so please do not lea d of the hall: this is only for use in emerg additional fire exit at the en by that exit. d has rted, safe and secure – an member of the group feels relaxed, suppo adults and It is important that every ximum number limit of 50 Fo r that reason we have a ma um. For fun – while they are here. do not go over the maxim I am respo nsible for ensuring that we you are agreeing to children; as group leader en you register each week the same reason, ma y we remind you that wh e together: t will help us enjoy our tim follow a few simple ground rules tha ty. So if ldren, are your responsibili way s/he relates to and plays with other chi • Your child’s safety, the ck – intervene! s/he’s about to throw a bri en graciously. n of yours or your child’s, list ses concern about an actio sunderstood. • If another parent expres , or feel you have been mi of view, even if you don’t agree Explore each other’s point Stay friends! who are also d facilitate the group, but mbers who are here to organise an • Appreciate the team me part of our group family. other, and m, the equipment and each e your children to look after, the roo • Look after, and encourag take care with drinks , buggies and belongings. ncerns to know if you have any co ents on the group, and would also like any of the team We do value your comm ently. Please let me – or or suggestions about ho w we can do things differ ur input. d we always welcome yo db ack. This is your group an members – have your fee t and toddler group John’s Church – our paren estions you have about St discussion We also welcome any qu run parenting courses and churc h. From time to time we is run by members of the evenings. You are very welcome to join us. enjoy being together! Above all – have fun and Jenny Smith Group leader on ... to me outside group hours, feel free to call me PS If you need to speak 31
  31. 31. Sample registration form Parent/carer name: Child’s name: Child’s age: Child’s date of birth: Contact address: Postcode: Contact telephone number: Registration date: Medical conditions (eg allergies, asthma) Special needs: Signature of parent/carer Date Data protection declaration: A statement should be made on the form about how the information supplied on it will be stored and used and who will have access to it. The person completing the form must be asked to give their written consent for the information to be used in the ways indicated. The information supplied must not be used for any purpose other than those stipulated. For further advice, contact your organisation. Please note: Salvation Army groups are required to use the official Salvation Army Data Protection Notice on all registration forms.32
  32. 32. Sample weekly attendance recordTeam member Visitor Parent/carer Child Date Date Date 33
  33. 33. Notes
  34. 34. Parent and toddler groups can be the only adult company that many parents and carers have during the week. Because of this, the group has a great impact on their lives; probably more than most group leaders can imagine! Diane Louise JordanThe Good Practice Guide has beenproduced for parent and toddlergroup leaders and teams.It includes information about setting up and running parentinggroups, covering issues such as: Basic procedures for running a successful group Putting into place a child protection policy Finding new ways of communicating with the group The range of equipment needed for children Creating a safe and secure venue How to plan a group session Where to find further support for familiesIt will help parent and toddler group leadersand team members to: Support each other in their work Affirm the members of their group Create a welcoming environment Provide the opportunity to make real friendships Offer a happy learning place for children Make a difference in their community Be as excellent as they possibly can be

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