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Surge in numbers attending Families First clubs

Families First

Hundreds of youngsters are enjoying a packed programme of activities at the Families First clubs held during school holidays.

Over 400 children attended the school clubs during the Easter break when the activity clubs were doubled to five hour long sessions.

Families First

The longer sessions were introduced following feedback from parents whose children attending the holiday clubs during October and December last year.

The Families First holiday activity sessions are offered to P1 to P3 pupils who are entitled to a school clothing grant; to children who attend additional support needs schools; and also to children under five who attend a council pre-five centre during school holidays.

Families First

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Education Convener, paid a recent visit to a holiday activity camp to see how children are benefitting from the programme.

Councillor Henry, who visited a club in Renfrew, said: “The Families First programme is working hard to improve outcomes for children in their early years across Renfrewshire. Right from the beginning, we’ve listened to families and responded to their needs and that ethos continues to help us shape the programme. That is why we increased the number of hours the children attend the holiday activity clubs each day.

“The clubs have a packed programme of sports and games and children get to have fun at a local venue and while they are there they are provided with a healthy meal, all completely free of charge.

“We also provide a fun programme of activities for nursery children who attend a pre-five centre during the school holidays.

“Many families are facing tough times and some families can find themselves stretched during the school holidays. Our Families First holiday clubs are an important part of offering support to Renfrewshire families while helping our youngest children to thrive.”

For more information, visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/familiesfirst.

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Unique project generates half a million pounds for Renfrewshire families

FF Ferguslie Core Team (12)

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]A unique council service to give Renfrewshire’s children the best start in life through increased support for their families has now generated £500,000 in support for local households that they didn’t know they were entitled to.

Advice Works staff based in the First Families teams have been working closely with families to help them access support they are entitled to such as the Warm Home Discount, Tax Credits and other government benefits.

FF Ferguslie Core Team (12)

And more than 250 families have received one-to-one support from member of the Families First teams across the two areas on issues ranging from parenting support and health and well being to maximising household income and budgeting.

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Education Convener, said: “Our Families First Core Teams provide responsive, on-the-ground support for families in Linwood and Ferguslie who have young children. I am absolutely delighted that the teams have helped local families to access a staggering half a million pounds in support that they weren’t receiving because they didn’t know they were entitled to.

“Our multi-million pound investment in our Families First programme is a key part of this council’s drive to tackle child poverty in Renfrewshire and to close the attainment gap between high and low income households. We want to help families thrive.

“I’m pleased that investing heavily in our early year’s strategy and developing it into the Families First programme has had a positive impact. We’ve heard first hand from families who tell us the core team support has been invaluable to them and from parents who say they were barely coping before Advice Works helped them access support. We’ll keep working hard to make sure families are receiving the help that they are entitled to.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Innovative project generates over £340,000 for local families in need

Case study family 2

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A unique service to give Renfrewshire’s children the best start in life through a stronger focus on early years intervention and more support for families has reached its first anniversary.

Families First ‘core teams’ were set up by Renfrewshire Council in Linwood and Ferguslie 12 months ago to take forward a neighbourhood-based approach to helping families build a better future for their children, with a focus on 0-8 years.

One year on, Advice Works staff based within the teams have generated a total of £347,400 across both areas in support and income that local families didn’t know they were entitled to.

Case study family 2

And more than 200 families have received one-to-one support from member of the Families First teams across the two areas on issues ranging from parenting support and health and well being to maximising household income and budgeting.

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Education Convener, said: “Our Families First Core Teams provide responsive, on-the-ground support for families in Linwood and Ferguslie who have young children. The teams offer a support package that starts with our staff building trust with the families and quickly moves forward to helping the families achieve their potential.

“No two Families First stories are the same. Some families have a key worker working very closely with them for months and this can include support from health visitors and Advice Works also. Some have a key worker for a shorter time with added support from a Homestart volunteer. While other families come along to the drop-in sessions that the teams run for an informal cuppa and chat with staff and other families – and they know the teams are there if they need them.”

As well as the two core teams, 10 extra early years teachers have been recruited across Renfrewshire as part of the £14m Families First programme, and a looked after children mentoring team has been set up.

And all P1-P3 pupils across Renfrewshire who receive free school meals are invited to take part in the Families First Clubs during school holidays. The Clubs, which have also reached their first anniversary, offer a free meal and free activities every day during school holidays.

Clubs are also offered to children who attend additional support needs schools and children under five who attend a council pre-five centre during school holidays.
Councillor Henry added: “One year on, I’m delighted to say that investing heavily in our early year’s strategy and developing it into the Families First programme has had an extremely positive impact. We’ve heard first hand from families who tell us the core team support has been invaluable to them, and also from parents who value the extra support which the free clubs offer during school holidays.

Case study - family pic

“The core teams and the clubs are an important part of an overall Families First approach that aims to give our children the best possible start in life and my thanks go to everyone who has made the first year such a success.”

Case Study:

Louise Fraser, 27, from Ferguslie, is a single mum to three boys: Paul, 6; Aiden, 3; and Jason, who is 4 months old.

After Jason was born in June 2014, Louise’s health visitor put her in touch with Families First team. Frances Robertson, the Ferguslie Team Co-ordinator, went to Louise’s home to chat with her and assess where support for the family could be brought in.

From there Frances made an appointment for Louise with Karen Ewing, the Families First team’s Advice Worker.

Karen checked that the family was receiving all the support and benefits it was entitled to. Karen was able to get the family Healthy Start Vouchers to buy Jason’s formula every week; found that Paul was entitled to free school meals, which he’s now receiving; helped Louise re-apply for her tax credits to take account of the new baby, and her Child Tax Credits increased as a result.

David Kennedy, the Families First team’s energy adviser also worked with Louise and made a successful application to the Warm Home Discount Fund, meaning she now receives £140 a year towards the family’s energy bill. David also switched Louise’s tariff – a move that will save her around £40 a year.

And because Paul started receiving free school meals – he became entitled to attend the Families First clubs which offer (free school meal entitled children) a healthy lunch and fun activities from 12noon until 2.30pm, every weekday during the school holidays.

Frances was also able to get Aiden extra nursery time over the summer (2 days a week during the school holidays) which meant Louise had extra time to bond with her new baby. During this time, Louise took Jason to the free baby massage sessions the Families First team were running in Ferguslie.

Louise said: “The Families First team has been absolutely fantastic. I can’t thank Frances and her team enough for the support that me and the boys have received.

“Now that the free school meals are in place for Paul, it saves me £10 a week on his lunches and he can now attend the holiday clubs. The clubs are great for him because he has activities to take part in, social interaction with other children, and a free lunch, all through the school holidays.

“Having the Healthy Start Vouchers to buy Jason’s formula is also a big help, plus the support the team gave me to have my tax credits re-assessed and to access the Warm Home Fund, has also made such a difference.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Council stands by its commitment to help families

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Council stands by its commitment to help families.

Families First, Renfrewshire Council’s flagship initiative to improve the lives for local children is set to receive an additional £2.5million per year.

The extra cash means the work taking place to improve access to services for the families that need them most can continue into 2018.

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Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education Policy Board, Councillor Jacqueline Henry said: “It’s absolutely vital that our children get the best possible start in life if we are to break the cycle of deprivation that affects far too many families in Renfrewshire.

“We are putting funding into improving the things that impact on a child’s early development.

“We are increasing the number of teachers in our nurseries and putting increased emphasis on the transition to primary school. By developing a more nurturing approach our aim is to ensure our children ready and fully equipped to start learning so that they continue to progress in life.

“We’re investing in parents too, who need to be able to support their child’s development through positive reinforcement at home.

“If we can achieve better outcomes for families it’s better for our children and better for the future of Renfrewshire.”

The council’s Early Years Strategy was approved in March 2013. This latest announcement takes the council’s commitment to early intervention to almost £14 million over five years.

In the past 12 months the council has increased the number of teachers in its nurseries by 50%, changed its policies to reduce exclusion rates for children in care and supported a number of voluntary groups to increase their services in key locations.

Two teams have also been set up to provide on the ground support for families with young children. Working out of Woodlands Primary School in Linwood and Glencoats Primary School in Ferguslie, the teams have helped 152 families, through self-referral, to get the support available to them.

Families that would otherwise struggle to access council services can now get information on benefits and debt advice, get help with finding and joining a local community group or take part in a range of free parenting classes.

The council continues to be the only authority in Scotland to provide free school meals during the holidays for children of nursery age up to P3, who depend on this service during term-time. Delivered via its Families First activity clubs, invites have gone out to 1,100 families across Renfrewshire encouraging them to take advantage of this service during the forthcoming spring break.

For more information visit: renfrewshire.gov.uk/familiesfirst

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More nursery time on the way for Renfrewshire 3 and 4 year olds

KE 600hrs consultation 211013

More nursery time on the way for Renfrewshire 3 and 4 year olds.

Renfrewshire Council has launched a new consultation for parents about changes to nursery provision.

Currently every three and four year old in Scotland is entitled to 475 hours of government funded pre-school education each year. The Scottish Government is increasing this annual entitlement to 600 hours from August 2014.

KE 600hrs consultation 211013

Families in Renfrewshire with children under four have six weeks to tell the council what nursery arrangements suit their needs best so the council can plan for this change.

Whether it’s longer days or more days at nursery for their child, parents can register their views online at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/familiesfirst

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education Policy Board: “It’s necessary that we plan and develop a nursery provision that meets the Scottish Government’s commitment, but more importantly, also suits the needs of children and families within Renfrewshire.

“This change complements the work already underway to give children in Renfrewshire a great start in life.

“Our £7 million Families First programme is improving access to early learning and supporting families to deal with the issues that impact on their youngster’s ability to learn and develop or which prevents them for reaching their potential.

“A nursery provision that meets the needs of families will give parents the option to participate in work, training or education and the opportunity to build a better future for their family”.

Parents have until 1 December to take part in the consultation, which can they do online at www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/familiesfirst or by calling 0300 300 0300 to arrange for a paper copy to be sent to them.