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Paper 11 - 29 September 2000

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

29 September 2000

HAMPSHIRE EARLY YEARS DEVELOPMENT AND CHILDCARE PARTNERSHIP - UPDATE FROM A DISTRICT COUNCIL PERSPECTIVE

Report by Chris Youngs, Community and Leisure Services Manager, East Hampshire District Council and Sara Leigh, Childcare and Play Development Officer, Eastleigh Borough Council

INTRODUCTION

1. The Association has given its full backing to the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership (EYDCP) in view of the significance of the work for:

* economic development
* social inclusion
* preparation for life
* life-long learning.

2. This is the first report since the appointment of two officers from the District Councils to the EYDCP since a full report on the work of the partnership was considered last year. The representatives are Chris Youngs from East Hampshire District Council and Sara Leigh from Eastleigh Borough Council. A full list of partnership representatives is given in the Annex to this report.

3. Following the last meeting of the Partnership on 21st July 2000, both Chris Youngs and Sara Leigh felt that it would be appropriate to report to the Association on the work and considerable progress of the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership. This report aims to outline the work being carried out by the District Councils in developing Childcare places throughout Hampshire. Also to highlight the issues discussed at the last EYDCP meeting.

JOINT WORKING AGREEMENTS

4. Hampshire County Council and the EYDCP recognised that in order to develop new childcare places it was important to engage the support of the District Councils, using their local knowledge and contacts. Of the 11 District Councils, 7 already have working agreements in place with Hampshire County Council. At a recent Leisure Services Committee meeting, Basingstoke and Deane agreed the following:

* The Council’s support of the Hampshire County Council Early Years Development and Childcare Plan be approved in principle;

* Officers be authorised to discuss the implications of this report with the Basingstoke Play Council in respect of the future management of the local playwork and that a report in this respect be presented to the Committee in January 2001;

* The creation of a two year fixed term post of Childrens’ Service Officer be approved.

Winchester will shortly be finalised. Negotiations are still taking place with Hart and Fareham. Up to £10,000 is available annually to each District Council, (currently until March 2002). This funding is being used as creatively as possible, either to pay for the recruitment of a new member of staff to the post or by using an existing member of staff - usually a Play Development Officer.

5. The new Childcare Development Officers meet on a regular basis, either through the Hampshire Play Network or through support meetings where specific issues relating to the work they are doing are discussed.

THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

6. The Development Officers are working an average of 30 hours per week, their main role is to promote the importance of developing new childcare provision, this is done primarily by making contact with head teachers at local primary and secondary schools.

7. The whole process is quite lengthy, one of the requirements from the New Opportunities Fund (NOF) is that a new Club must be run by a Management Committee who must be fully constituted at the time of application. As the Committee is run by volunteers, the Development Officers are spending a considerable amount of time working through the role of the Committee members and ensuring that they understand their legal responsibilities. In addition an application form is completed and sent to NOF, along with a business plan and cash flow forecast - not an easy task for beginners. Hampshire Training and Enterprise Council are able to offer the help of a Business Advisor, free of charge, who will visit the Committee and help them through the financial process.

8. There are only three times in the year when New Opportunities Fund will accept applications: 15th February, June and October are the deadline dates. Once received, the application takes 4 months to process, during which time the Committee can concentrate on recruiting staff and starting the Registration process with the Regulation and Development Officers at Social Services. There is no guarantee that the bid to NOF will be successful, however the Committee has to carry on in anticipation that it will be successful.

9. The Development Officer will work alongside the group and will remain in a supportive role until the Committee feels confident on its own. They are also encouraging the development of local childcare/after school club networks, these are intended to provide the opportunity for committe members and staff working in the clubs to share in each others successes and failures and support each other by identifying training needs and sharing good practice.

PARTNERSHIP MEETINGS

10. The Partnership meetings have very full agendas, and normally last about 3 hours.

Issues discussed at the last meeting included:-

(1) Allocation of funding for three year old children - the Department for Education and Employment have offered a further £2.3m to Hampshire for funding the nursery education of three year old children in this financial year. This equates to the equivalent of 3000 additional places in the next two grant periods.

(2) Employers seminar - a Government initiative aimed at developing work-life balance policies. External consultants from industry have been asked to explore possible ways of engaging employers in childcare initiatives and linking them to the Partnership. The interest of the County Council, as one of the largest employers in Hampshire, in progressing work-life balance policies is being engaged.

(3) Sub-group reports - The EYDCP has developed sub-groups to deal with specific areas of work, these are:- 0-5's, 5-14's, Inclusion and Training.

Issues of interest included:-

5-14's Sub-group - a scheme for 11-14 year olds in Chandlers Ford has recently been piloted by the Youth Service. The scheme was set up to offer play and training opportunities, two afternoons a week after school had finished. The scheme had been a great success, and police had reported a noticeable reduction in petty crime and vandalism in the area. In order for the scheme to continue, additional funding is needed, it was hoped that the New Opportunities Fund would support the scheme and it was agreed that contact would be made between the Youth Service and the Out of School Learning Initiative of the Education Department. The Early Education and Childcare Partnership had agreed to assist in funding the scheme until the end of this financial year.

(4) Networking and Communication - each member of the Partnership has a responsibility to communicate the work of the Partnership to the groups they are representing, and bring the views of those they are representing to the Partnership.

A regular publication The Partnership Post will be available in addition to the minutes from the meetings and this will be used to widely publicise the work of the Partnership - copies have been supplied to all local authorities within the Partnership.

(5) Surestart - Phase 3 of the Surestart projects have now been proposed and Havant has been included, the funding is £2.8m over three years with recurrent funding over the 8-10 years of the project. Key participants in the project are likely to be Havant Borough Council, Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Health Authority and Hampshire County Council (Social Services, Education, EECU).

(6) Early education and childcare targets - This is proving to be quite a challenge, this term 1,600 places have been created. In response to a parliamentary question, Margaret Hodge, Minister at the DfEE, has published the number of childcare places created 1999-2000 by each local authority. Hampshire had developed the second largest number of places.

It was also noted that grant aid is available both to develop new provision and to support existing provision, through the EECU.

Colleges of further education have recently been offered funding from the Further Education Funding Council to establish more day care provision on their sites and to link these facilities with the provision of courses in Childcare as part of the major recruitment campaign.

(7) National Recruitment Campaign - Launched on 4 July 2000 and will run until March 2001. It is intended to raise the status of the sector and to recruit 15,000 - 20,000 new workers nationally.

CONCLUSION

11. This report is for information only. If any Member authority wishes to pursue particular matters, Chris Youngs and Sara Leigh will be happy to assist.

12. Regular updates will be provided to the Association.

CHRIS YOUNGS
Community and Leisure Services Manager, East Hampshire District Council

SARA LEIGH
 Childcare and Play Development Officer, Eastleigh Borough Council

Date: 19 September 2000
Annex: 1
Contact Sara Leigh - 023 8069 8367

ANNEX

AUTHORITIES AND PARTNERS REPRESENTED ON THE EARLY YEARS DEVELOPMENT AND CHILDCARE PARTNERSHIP

Hampshire County Council
District Councils
Officers from the Early Education and Childcare Unit (EECU)
The Library Service
Family Centres
Maintained Schools
Training and Enterprise Council
Local employers
Independent schools
Nursery network
Out of school childcare (5-14)
Pre-school learning alliance
Playgroup network
Hampshire Play Network
Further Education Colleges
Health service
Diocesan authorities
Voluntary associations for Special Educational Needs
Employment service and New Deal partnership
Parents - Children and Families Forum
Homestart
Voices

Last update: 06/10/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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