To read the articles from Children's Links click on the links below.
Children’s Links has been successfully improving children’s life experiences since being established in 1993. Although new to Hampshire, we are an innovative and growing organisation. We firmly believe that investment in people matters. In order to grow happy, healthy and motivated children, we need to encourage and nurture the adults around them.
In early February we sent out requests for people to nominate those that work with children for the Hampshire Annual Early Years Awards 2010. We would like to thank those who took the time to send nominations. With the exceptional response we received it became a very difficult job for the panel to reach decisions in many of the categories. The finalists were:
Team of the Year
James Farm, Hartley Wintney
Stepping Stones, Petersfield
The Rainbow Centre, Fareham
YMCA Fairthorne Manor Nursery, Southampton
Early Years Worker of the Year
Carol Fraser of Rotherly Day Nursery, Winchester
Mary Finch of Castle Hill Pre-School, Basingstoke
Sophie Fall of Hopscotch Day Nursery, Titchfield
Overall Improvement in Quality
Crestwood Pre-School, Eastleigh
Hopscotch Day Nursery, Titchfield
Little Gems Day Nursery, Waterlooville
Outstanding Contribution/Support Staff of the Year
Irene Parsons of Hopscotch Day Nursery, Gosport
Paula Curry of All Saints Pre-School, Playgroup Winchester
Sue Rashleigh of Court Moor Playgroup, Fleet
Volunteer of the Year
Barbara Sutton of Gosport Opportunity Group, Gosport
Gary White of Trinity Pre-School, Fareham
Jackie Cross of Woolton Hill Pre-School, Newbury
Katrina Munt of Star Playschool & Nursery, Basingstoke
Manager/Supervisor of the Year
Gemma Shorten of Little Gems Day Nursery, Waterlooville
Kim Pearson of Little Acorns, Hedge End
Kimberley Griffiths of Stepping Stones, Petersfield
Paula Phillips of Tavistock Pre-School, Fleet
The awards evening took place at the new Holiday Inn, Winchester on Tuesday 30 March and the lucky winners were James’ Farm, Sophie Fall, WISPS, Irene Parsons, Gary White and Kim Pearson.
Nigel Sisley, Chair of Children’s Links Board, said “It was an excellent event to celebrate outstanding achievements in Hampshire, moving onwards and upwards to start preparing for the next year.”
Another attendee said, “It was fantastic to be part of it.”
Clearly it was a very enjoyable evening for all and we look forward to repeating it next year.
Many community run pre-schools are managed by a committee made up of parents of the group, these volunteers give up some of their valuable time to help to provide good quality provision for their children. More families now have both parents working and it is becoming increasingly difficult to get parents to devote their precious time helping on the committee, but without them the pre-schools would not exist.
Being a committee member can be hard work, but it is immensely rewarding, providing both expected and unexpected personal development opportunities and while you bring your skills and energy to help in the running of your setting, you will also find you gain new experience and knowledge. According to the charity commission there are 900,000 charity trustees in England and Wales, made up of very diverse people.
It is vital that help and advice on the roles and responsibilities of the committee volunteers is available. Children’s Links is commissioned by the Early Education and Childcare Unit (EECU) to support committees in developing and understanding the importance of their roles, in the management of settings. It is important that volunteers for committees understand their legal responsibilities; they take on the responsibility of being the registered body for the setting and will have a legal obligation to make sure the setting abides by their constitution or articles of memorandum.
The committee/trustees will have to ensure that all annual returns to the charity commission or Financial Services Authority are completed and returned on time. They are also responsible for ensuring that the correct policies and procedures are in place and that they are reviewed annually, also that all the correct procedures are followed for staff recruitment and retention, business plans and cash flows, budgets are done for three years.
Being a committee member is all about team work, from recognising and using all of the skills of the group’s members to trusting the expertise of the staff. It is important that the committee works closely with its members and staff to consult regularly with children. This can be done through observing the likes and dislikes of the children, asking the children what they would like to have in the setting; talking to parents, using questionnaires, parents meetings, oneto- one consultations; exploring different mediums to engage parents, such as email, internet, texting, newsletters, suggestion boxes; and staff, through meetings, appraisals, one-to-ones to ensure their setting is providing the best service to all those who have a stake in changing children’s lives.
An induction pack for new committee members is a very useful tool, it will give members information on how the committee works, its constitution, roles and responsibilities of the committee and its officers, important dates for the coming year and who has the relevant documentation. It is important that committees set up a system to enable a smooth hand over of roles.
Children’s Links is here to help and through the development worker service, we give help and advice on governance, AGM’s and legal status. We do this by providing one-to-one meetings with the committee, committee briefing sessions once a term to clusters of committees, telephone and email support, a development worker can attend AGM’s and meetings on request, to give help, support and advice. Children’s Links has developed a committee information pack, which clearly sets out the roles and responsibilities of the key officers. Support for settings is also available from the EECU.
There are opportunities for committee members to attend training from the EECU and local voluntary groups, this will enable committee members to gain new skills and update their knowledge, which could lead to new job opportunities.
The commitment and energy trustees display makes a difference to their charity and everyone it helps, it enables you to be a part of changing lives for the better.
Help is available so please contact your local Children’s Links Senior Development Officer on 0845 373 0645.
Fundraising is an essential task for many childcare providers, but it can also be daunting. There are several ways for an organisation to raise funds, what you choose to do largely depends on how much money you need and what you want to use the money for.
For larger amounts of money, a grant might be appropriate but even if you only need a small amount for a small project, there may be a grant out there for you. If you are unsure where to start, your local Development Officer will be able to point you in the right direction.
There are many grants available from various national sources such as BBC Children in Need, Tesco Charity Trust, and Awards for All. There may also be funding available from your local parish, town, city or district council. All of these grants have criteria that you will need to meet so it is a good idea to look through any information given by the source to make sure that you qualify to apply and to be sure that you can turn your application in on time if there is a deadline.
If grants are not an option for you, then holding a fundraiser in the local community might be a good way to raise funds. Remember, you should be a registered charity or a not-for-profit organisation to raise funds in the community. However, if you are a private setting you can still organise events with your parents. This is a good way to get parents, children, and the local community involved in your project. For this type of fundraising, it is a good idea to hold a meeting to let parents know what your plans are, what you need the money for, and how much you hope to raise.
Getting people excited about what you are doing to improve your facilities or resources for children will help to make the event more successful. Some ideas that have been successful in the past are; raffles, sponsored events, auction of promises (where things like a piano lesson, raking leaves, or other chores are auctioned off), sporting events, and coffee mornings. If you decide to have a raffle, you can ask parents and businesses in the local community to donate items. If you have specific things in mind, ask for them. It doesn’t hurt to ask and most people/companies will be willing to help. Also, if businesses sponsor you, you can advertise them and acknowledgement the sponsorship, via newsletters or posters, within the community, which is often an incentive for them to donate items.
Another example is to apply to your local Waitrose to be one of their monthly causes. The scheme is set up so that three local charities or causes share a pot of £1,000 every month; shoppers are given a token when they shop and can then choose to support one of the three charities by putting their token in one of three bins (one for each charity or cause). At the end of the month, the tokens are added up and the money is divided according to the proportion of tokens each charity or cause received.
As you can see there are several ways for you to find funding for your setting. Remember that your local Development Officer is here to help you and will be able to provide you with some examples of successful projects.
For more information, please contact your local Development Officer or call Patricia Gradoville, Children’s Links Customer Support Officer on 0845 373 0645.
We know this can be a bit of a difficult issue to discuss with families especially when trying to encourage healthy options in lunch boxes and snacks. Sometimes it is a good idea to start in the setting, discussing healthy and not-so-healthy foods, playing health food shops, engaging children in developing mark-making through writing shopping lists.
If you send out newsletters you may find the information below of some support to you – keep it fun and non-threatening, and extend support to parents who may be struggling. There are some fantastic resources available on the Caroline Walker Trust (CWT) website, but if you would like to discuss this further, do give your Development Officer a ring.
Healthy eating for families
We all want to encourage our children to eat healthily at mealtimes and for snacks both in the home and outside. A basic principle to healthy eating is to eat a variety of food and this will provide you with a range of vitamins and minerals. If you are only providing a minimal selection of foods then you can only receive a minimal number of vitamins and minerals. As discussed by the Caroline Walker Trust, that has completed extensive research on healthy eating, a varied diet is associated with better health. Some children will immediately refuse a new food. Research has shown that continuous exposure to a food will increase the likelihood that the child will eat it. Those on lower incomes can find this an expensive way to increase a child’s diet and carers can be an effective assistant to help broaden and provide a balanced diet.
A balanced diet helps children and grown-ups to work and play to their best ability. If you are struggling to address some of these issues with your children and adults why not consider some of these friendly tips to get you on the road to healthier eating.
Cooking with children – believe it or not this can be good fun if organised in advance. Use a children-friendly cookery book to find meals and snacks that look appealing and fun to make. Choose savoury and sweet options and creating fun, quick and simple snacks and meals you will be able to help children try new foods which can become part of their regular five a day. Snack foods can be a mixture of fruit, cereal products and vegetables. Examples are slices of melon or pineapple, grapes, cut up cherry tomatoes, currants, a rind of pepper or bread sticks.
Eating healthily doesn’t have to cost twice as much. Having frozen fruit and vegetables is just as good and a cheaper option than buying fresh for everything. It also still counts towards your five a day. Tinned oily fish is also a cheaper option than buying fresh fish. Beans and pulses are an excellent source of protein and can help towards daily intakes.
Why not ask children to help you consider why it is important to eat a balanced diet and the five a day – perhaps set a challenge or a sponsored event, grow your own in small planters, encourage children to help make a shopping list and find the produce in the supermarket, finally get round to those cooking activities children love.
The four main groups to get a balanced diet from are:
1) bread, other cereals and potatoes
2) fruit and vegetables
3) milk and dairy foods
4) meat, fish and alternatives such as pulses (peas, beans and lentils), eggs, vegetable proteins and soya.
Research shows that children who eat a balanced diet manage better at school and at play; remember: we feed the brain, not just the body. Why not take one small step today and swap an indulgent snack for a healthy one and help your children to grow healthily and happily for life.
For more information please visit the Caroline Walker Trust website at www.cwt.org.uk.
During the spring term the BBC’s Panorama programme featured nutrition for under fives. If you would like more information on this issue please visit the Early Education and Childcare Unit (EECU) website at http://www3.hants.gov.uk/childrens-services/childcare/providers/nutritional-guidelines.htm.
This site features information on the Caroline Walker Trust (CWT), a nationally recognised charitable organisation that has published authoritative guidance on nutrition for various groups, including under fives in childcare.
If you are comfortable with these guidelines and feel that your setting is a good example, there may be promotional opportunities available.
For more information please contact the EECU helpline on 01962 813887 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a growing national charity, Children’s Links is always looking to improve the lives of thousands of children and young people across the United Kingdom. We have grown a wide range of services in response to need and have indentified gaps in services recognised by our stakeholders, parents, children and the wider the community.
Our new membership service has been developed to address the needs of an increasing number of children’s services who wanted the support of a nationals organisation.
A new Membership leaflet has been designed to introduce our new membership packages: gold at £50.00, silver at £30.00 per year and the bronze that is currently free.
If you would like to take advantage of our new membership packages, please either apply online at www.childrenslinks.org.uk and select membership or contact the membership team on membership@ childrenslinks.org.uk.
Thank you to everyone who returned a completed customer survey on how Children’s Links works with your setting. We received an exceptionally high number of responses with a very positive result on the support Children’s Links provides. Terms such as brilliant, supportive, excellent and helpful were used to describe Development Officers.
We are looking at all of your replies and will be touch with those of you who asked for specific assistance. If you did not leave your setting’s name please contact Helen Clark, Customer Support Officer, who will pass your details on to the correct Development Officer.
We understand that some of you have noticed a decrease in visits to your settings. If you have not seen a Development Officer for a while and would like support please contact them or call the number below.
If you have any questions or requests we are always happy to help. The time you have taken to feedback your opinions is very much appreciated and will be used to enable us to continue to provide a service that meets your setting’s requirements.
For more information, please contact Helen Clark, Children’s Links Customer Support Officer on 07852 998086.