“Staff and volunteers are committed, dedicated, enthusiastic and caring…”
During NACCC’s AGM and Conference Jennifer Lynch and Advone from the FJYPB presented a very engaging and enjoyable talk sharing the findings that have come from their work with NACCC accredited child contact centres. These findings and recommended approaches will help your centre to be truly child focused in the work that you do.
The information provided to the meeting was formulated as a result of child contact centre inspections that members of the board had carried out. They explained that their aims and objectives in doing this were:
a. To ensure centres offer a child-friendly and child-centred service.
b. To ensure feedback, ideas and views of children and young people are sought, listened to and acted upon.
c. To share good practice across child contact centres.
They presented their findings from the inspections and we were all immensely proud to hear that they were very positive about the work of the centres that they had visited:
a. Staff and Volunteers were:
- Enthusiastic &
b. As a result of using the services they heard that children feel:
- Thankful &
The young people they spoke to were quoted as saying
“Staff are very welcoming and supportive”.
“I didn’t expect it to be so nice and relaxed”.
“The centre staff are very friendly and are helpful”.
c. In relation to the resources provided to children they found that:
- …the resources that are used in the centres are of a general good standard and had been provided through kind donations of local people.
- Most of the resources provided were found to be best suited to children of pre-school and early primary school years. Some of the centres did have a few resources such as board games more suited to older children and young people. Staff tended to ask the parents/carers of older children to provide toys and resources during their contact time.
- Many of the centres use either church halls, community centres or family centres to facilitate the sessions. Due to this the appearance and feel of the environment varies. The families that were spoken to stated that they are appreciative of the service and can see that the staff’s best efforts are made to provide a warm and welcoming space for them to have contact. One parent said “The centre itself is a little run down and could do with some general maintenance but this does not cause any issues with contact”.
d. Refreshments. Centres provided a good standard of refreshments and at a reasonable cost. It was felt that the families very much valued having this service available to them.
“Good” rating of inspected child contact centres
Using a scale of unsatisfactory, poor, ok, good and outstanding the FJYPB found the NACCC centres they have seen to be ‘good’. This is a genuine achievement and a mark of quality to be celebrated. As a group these children and young people really tell it as they see it and can be very frank when things aren’t to their expectations.
Generalised feedback and areas for development included:
- Resources for older children and young people: Many of the centres were found to be lacking in resources suitable for older children and young people such as board games, books, magazines, puzzles and games. Staff being aware of this often ask the families to provide their own resources during contact. FJYPB members did praise the centres that were able to set up or have an area better suited to older children, with comfortable chairs and tables.
- Group activities: FJYPB members understand that the time during contact is precious and cherished by the child and their parent. However, in those centres where the families interact with one another and chat and play together – it is recommended that staff set up a group activity such as painting a large collage, junk model building and story time.
- Feedback from families: Most of the centres rely upon feedback from families at the end of their time at the centre and is completed during a final review. Feedback is VERY important for families and especially for children and young people. “If you don’t ask us how else are you going to know that your service is right for children and young people”? The FJYPB would like to recommend that centres routinely collate and encourage feedback from families and get them involved in service development.
- Displays: Children can feel a real sense of pride and achievement when a piece of their work or art is displayed. Also, it could be said that when a group of children or families complete a joint art project it can promote unity and belonging within the group. Recognising that most centres are using the contact room temporarily and share the room or building with other services, it is recommended that displays are shown during contact session then removed and stored.
Why not use the FJYPB resources at your centre?
The FJYPB have also worked with Cafcass and created a range of exciting and inciteful resources that can be used by staff or volunteers at child contact centres when working with children. These include a range of Top Tips aimed at parents and professionals working with children and young people:
- Top tips for separating parents
- FJYPB’s top tips for respecting children and young people’s diversity
- Aleesha’s top tips for working with children and young people with a disability
- Matthew’s top tips for working with children and young people with autism
- Top tips for working with transgender children and young people
- Top tips for working with LGB children and young people