Ealing: Free childcare for two-year-olds and work-focused services

What was the issue?

Ensuring that parents who are ready to access training courses that will lead to employment receive a full range of information, advice and guidance, including around childcare and the services provided by their local Jobcentre Plus (JCP) and children’s centres.

What were the barriers?

The cultural and working differences between JCP and children’s centres had made it difficult for the agencies supporting the parents to share information and work to together effectively. At the same time the parents had found it difficult to access information and support to take up opportunities that would result in positive outcomes.

What was the solution?

Partnership working

It was vital that agencies supporting the parents shared information and worked together effectively. To ensure parents accessed the range of provision available in Ealing, monthly meetings were set up to

  • promote better inter-agency working and understanding related to the support on offer
  • act as a forum to clarify issues and develop local solutions
  • assist in developing networks in each quadrant of the borough
  • develop a series of local geographical information system maps to aid understanding of the location and which services could possibly be linked
  • contribute to Ealing’s child poverty workstream development.

Representatives from each of these services attended the meetings

  • children’s centres and children’s centre data team
  • Ealing child poverty team
  • Ealing Family Information Service
  • Ealing PCT
  • CORAM outreach teams
  • SAFE 0-12 teams: SAFE 0-12 is an early intervention service that works with children and families to avoid difficulties escalating – the teams include social, mental health and pupil and family workers and a family therapist. In addition there is a community and development worker in each team
  • extended schools coordinators
  • play service
  • Preschool Learning Alliance
  • Jobcentre Plus
  • skills & employment coordinators
  • E.A.S.E. (Empowering Action and Social Esteem) Ltd.

All members realised the benefits of taking a holistic approach to meeting family needs. The formation of the group strengthened inter-agency understanding and cooperation, and members used the forum for joint planning and project work.

It also enabled members to seek and share the latest guidance and information about new services and pilot work in the borough, such as the CORAM outreach teams and the Supportive Action for Families in Ealing (SAFE) 0-12 teams and work-focused services pilot.

Meetings were also used to invite external agencies to discuss how they can support the local offer to parents, e.g. the Financial Services Authority.

What was the outcome?

Positive experiences and effective communication between agencies and joining up of services has benefited parents on their journey into work.

For example:
A JCP lone parent adviser referred a parent who had been on income support for over 15 years and has five children to a children’s centre. The parent had never accessed a children’s centre previously, even though her youngest child is two years old. The work focused services JCP adviser based in the children’s centre ensured the parent received all the information about the services offered by the children’s centre, and the family support worker identified that this parent would benefit from parenting advice, so a referral to CORAM outreach/parenting services was initiated on behalf of the parent.

The Parent also needed support to access childcare to enable them to sign up for a training course (which would in turn help her with access wider job opportunities). The work focused services JCP adviser assisted the parent with the application for the free childcare for two-year-olds scheme. The application was successful and the parent received their full 15 hours of childcare entitlement. As a result, the parent was able to take part in a motivational/confidence building workshop (Live It) and computer classes. 

Due to the parent’s positive experience she now regularly attends ‘stay and play’ sessions and takes an active part in the welfare of her children, as well as looking to develop further skills with the aim of finding a job.

Contact details

Seetal Sejpal
Telephone: 020 8825 7943
Email: ssejpal@ealing.gov.uk