A report on the views of parents/carers, staff and volunteers on services for under 5s delivered by Children’s Centres and Library Plus in Northamptonshire

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Summary of report content

During May, June and July 2015 Healthwatch Northamptonshire (HWN) Children, Young People and Families working group visited Library Plus and children’s centre services in Northamptonshire to hear from families, staff and volunteers about the services provided for children under 5. HWN spoke to 22 staff, 11 volunteers and 44 parents in 17 libraries, 23 staff/volunteers and 35 parents/carers in 14 children’s centres, and 26 ‘others’, including an additional 15 mums. HWN decided to carry out this piece of work following a number of changes by Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) to the children’s centre contracts from August 2014. The findings inform Children’s centre staff have told HWN that targeted/early help families that are being reached are benefiting from clearly set out programmes delivered by professionals with an improved understanding of their responsibilities. However, generally there is a feeling among staff and by HWN that there is going to be a ‘lost generation of families in need of early help’. The main concern, apart from ‘why was it done?’ and ‘what money has been saved?’ is ‘what will be the future of the families and children being missed?’ A number of people feel that the current children’s centre provision is not for them as there is a stigma attached to using children’s centre services. There is an unknown number of families and children who are not accessing libraries or children’s centres which may lead to a greater need for targeted and specialist services in the future. The concept of prevention appears to have been lost in the narrowing focus of children’s centres and the reduction of the universal role. There is much less peer support for families in need from both professionals, volunteers and other parents/carers than there seems to have been before the changes. There has been an absence of joined up working and effective communication between the libraries and children’s centres. It depends more on the people/staff in the system rather than the system itself. Although there was consultation on the changes in the summer of 2013 and the winter of 2014/15 it appears that little consideration was given to people’s views and feedback on a service that affects so many families. Current performance data is based on sign up and footfall rather than improved outcomes for families.

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General details

Report title 
A report on the views of parents/carers, staff and volunteers on services for under 5s delivered by Children’s Centres and Library Plus in Northamptonshire
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Northamptonshire
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 1 September, 2015
Date evidence capture began 
Tuesday, 1 September, 2015
Date evidence capture finished 
Tuesday, 1 September, 2015
Type of report 
Key themes 
Building and facilities
Continuity of care
Public involvement
Quality of care
Quality of staffing
Quality of treatment
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Primary research method used 
Deliberative event
User stories
How was the information collected? 
Visit to provider
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
Baby clinic
Social care services 
Children services

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
All care professionals
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.