Parents on benefits have to be actively seeking work when their youngest child turns five. Soon they will need to be preparing for work when their youngest child is three. Bedroom taxes and benefits caps are also having an impact on the choices parents make.
Children’s Centres have a growing role in supporting parents get back to work, and OFSTED is now patrolling both the activities and importantly the outcomes. So how best to make use of these vital community resources to best support their communities.
Use your venue.
The great thing about Children’s Centres is that parent’s like them. They are welcoming, friendly places with staff teams they know and trust. The support given here is seen as coming from people who have their children’s interests at heart too. So use that trust wisely to provide excellent advice and support in your family friendly venue.
Because parents have many different needs you will need to find local organisations who can work with you. Housing support, benefits advice and training all need to be part of the mix.
Help Parents understand the process
They will need a CV, interview practice and advice on how to find a job. Grow that expertise in-house, or bring in an employability expert to run a motivation and confidence building programme and a Parent’s Job Club. We can help here.
Offer great volunteering experiences.
Getting work experience is vital for parents who have been out of the workplace for along time. Be creative, think of food preparation and admin support as well as childcare. Develop projects where parents can create their own market stall or sell things hey sew. Give them responsibility for a project. All these activities help build both confidence in the parent and confidence in an employer that they are employable.
Get in quick
Parents need to think about work before their children start school. As well as being spaces for children to play and learn, Children’s Centres have become places where parents can also develop their talents. The blossoming of cooking classes, sewing circles, basic skills courses, introductions to IT and English classes all incrementally improve parents’ confidence and employability. Throw in expert advice on finding work, and parents will find the transition far easier.
Help with childcare
This is such an obvious idea – but often left out. A little bit of free childcare can often makes a real difference in encouraging someone to move forward. On our projects we have found that just three sessions can hep a parent feel confident enough their child will be happy in childcare that they feel able to move in to work.
Use your influence
Finally children’s centre staff know their communities as well if not better than any other team. You are based there, families come in every day, you hear their concerns as soon as they impact on the family. You need to be part of the debate on what makes a real difference.