Like many councils, Sheffield runs evidence-based group parenting programmes. They can run for up to 15 weeks and operate on a referral basis. But the city council has now taken this a step further by working with Triple P to launch new forms of parenting support for a mass audience.
September saw a new Triple P "light touch" programme launched. It involves parenting seminars for up to 200 parents being offered as well as more intimate discussion groups.The idea has been to provide parents with easy-to-access one-off support alongside themore intensive help.
Candi Lawson, who oversees the parenting team, which is part of the children’s and families directorate, says the council decided to pilot the new way of working after seeing demand rise for parenting support. Two thirds of cases coming through the early intervention and prevention service, which filters cases referred in from council teams as well as health professionals, schools and early years services, were citing problems parenting or the home environment as a reason for needing help.
We were seeing high levels of referrals for evidence-based parenting support, says Ms Lawson.
Last year we provided support to over 500 parents, but there were clearly much higher numbers that needed to access support – so we had to find a way of providing increased access.
But this new way of working is not just about relieving the pressure on the other programmes. We believe these new formats will reach out to people we have not always managed to help in the past because they either do not want to do the longer courses or do not need to.
In order to deliver the new levels of support, the parenting team has reduced the number of longer programmes it is delivering by a third. During the next year, Sheffield will evaluate how effective the "light touch" approach is by gathering feedback from those who attend and monitoring referrals for the other parenting programmes.
Ms Lawson says:
It is still early days, but we’re very hopeful. The seminars and discussion groups are proving popular and we hope by taking this approach it will help to normalise parenting support and encourage parents and carers to access the service at the earliest stage.
The seminars have been delivered in partnership with schools with those taking part marketing the event and providing the venue. The parenting team then provide the practitioners to deliver the 90-minute talks. So far five secondary schools have got involved with seminars being run once a fortnight on average at the moment. Although, in time, the council aims to roll them out to more schools and is also hoping to run them in city centre venues.
There are six types of seminars – three for parents of children 12 and under and three for parents of teenagers:
Meanwhile, the discussion groups are more intimate and involve small groups of up to 12 people taking part in a two-hour long discussion led by a parenting specialist. They are again split into groups for the parents of younger children and groups for parents of teenagers. The topics include dealing with disobedience, managing family conflict and developing good bedtime routines. While the seminars are operated on a drop-in basis, parents have to sign up to the discussions or get referred on to them.
The new formats are to be accompanied by a media and publicity campaign, which will look to use social media to promote these events and the importance of good parenting. It means the council is now providing a five-level programme of parenting support– media and publicity (level one), seminars(level two), discussion groups (level three), group programmes (level four) and specialist programmes tailored to those who need extra support such as the victims of domestic abuse (level five).
Specialist parenting practitioner Liz Hill says the flexibility has enabled her and hercolleagues to have a greater impact.
We are now reaching all sorts of people we just could not before. For example, we had a discussion group recently with parents from the Roma/Slovak communities. I just don’t think they would have been able or wanted to commit themselves to a 15-week programme, but by having these different formats we are able to tailor our programmes to different groups. We can hold them at different times too – in the evenings as well as during the day.
as published by Local Government Association on 08 Dec 2016
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