Case study: Sighthill Child and Family Centre
Early Years and Early Intervention Framework
- Delivering integrated services that meet the holistic needs of children and families.
Background and Context
Sighthill Child and Family Centre is situated in the south West of the City of Edinburgh. It is close to the primary schools of Calder Glen, Broomhill and Sighthill. The centre has been open for 26 years. It serves a transient population which is characterised by dependency issues and multiple mental health illnesses.
The centre is a single story building and offers accommodation across three playrooms for children aged six weeks to five years. All children have regular use of a garden area and an indoor soft play area. In addition, there is a community meeting room which is also used by visiting services. The centre in open between the hours of eight am and four pm and provides lunch for children who have extended placements.
The centre is staffed by a manager, depute and qualified senior nursery nurses and nursery nurses. All staff undertake a range of duties both within the nursery and in the wider community. It is funded by the City of Edinburgh Council's Children and Families Department with some extra funding from Sure Start.
The centre aims to provide a wide range of services both within the centre itself and within the local community. It works in conjunction with social work agencies, health clinics and community projects.
The centre provides nursery placements for children to five years all of whom have been referred through social work or health agencies. Some placements are extended to meet the needs of both children and families. In addition, the following services are available to all families:
- Contracted outreach services within the family home for six weeks.
- Day care respite placements e.g to support grandparents or a crisis within a family.
- Group care placements with a nursery nurse key worker.
- Support for teenage mums.
- Supervised contact to support the return of children into the family home.
- Handling children's behaviour group programme with crèche facilities for children under eight years.
- Sighthill baby group within Sighthill Community Centre.
- Balerno family advice centre within Dean Park Primary School for children under eight years.
- Baby massage within the centre or family home.
- St Nicholas Group offers a playgroup style opportunity for families and their children.
- Health, sleep and nutrition advice.
The centre works closely with multiagency practice teams within the community. The 1:1 outreach service is a strong feature of the centre. It is designed to meet the needs families who are isolated or in crisis, experiencing difficulties in caring for their children or who require direct support in addressing an individual need such as housing or links with health and or social work services. Staff draw up a six week contract with all families which outlines the services to be provided and the expectations upon the families. At the end of the programme there is an opportunity to review the success of the outreach programme with families and to offer addition services where required.
The centre's work within the wider community aims to provide support and advice for new parents or existing families who experience difficulty. The St Nicolas group meets the need of families who are isolated and supports them in building relationships with other families.
Impact & Outcomes
- Significant numbers of families receive individualised support, some within their own homes.
- Families receive valuable advice to support the well being of their children both within the wider community and within the home.
- Families are supported to engage with health and social work agencies.
- A few families are supported to return to work.
- Mums are supported both pre and post birth on an outreach basis until the baby is six weeks and therefore able to take up a placement within the centre.
- Children returned to the family home as a result of a period of supervised contact.
- Children prevented from being removed into care through day care placements.
- Families supported through significant transitions for extended periods e.g into a nursery class or primary school.
- Trusting relationships developed between nursery staff and families leading to meaningful engagement.
- Families experience difficulty in engaging with multiple agencies for the same issue e.g they have to "tell the same story" to a number of agencies e.g housing, benefits, social work and are generally accompanied by nursery staff. This causes frustration and can lead to disengagement. It increases the workload of staff as they are often the link between the agencies.
- As far as the centre is aware there has been no long term study regarding the long term outcomes for families when they eventually disengage from the centre.