Hampshire Safeguarding update for parents of 5-11 year olds

Following the recent news, Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board emailed this letter to all primary schools:

 

Following liaison with the police we are sending this email to all primary schools. We would very much appreciate your co-operation in circulating this message to parents and re-enforcing the importance of online safety.

With the Christmas holidays approaching and the prospect of children perhaps receiving digital media as a gift in some shape or form – tablets and gaming consoles, for example – we thought it would be an appropriate time to remind you about the responsible use of such devices.

Following, the recent news stories relating to the Police’s increasing concerns about child exploitation through social media ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42224148 ), please do take the time to set up robust parental controls on devices and ensure that you set the passwords and codes so that only you know them.

There is some helpful advice relating to this on Hampshire County Council’s website:

https://www.hants.gov.uk/socialcareandhealth/childrenandfamilies/safeguardingchildren/ onlinesafety

If your children are likely to be using the internet, you may find it helpful for them to be aware and to have viewed this website: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/5_7/

Helpful advice is also available from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) website:

https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/

Aside from the risk of exploitation and cyber bullying, it is unfortunate in this day and age that content exists on social media that would be inappropriate, and potentially harmful, for young children to view.

If you receive images or videos on Snapchat, Instagram, Whatsapp or via any other social media featuring people that are naked or are sexual in nature, these should be deleted immediately and reported to the Police on the non-emergency 101 telephone number. Many people are still unaware that showing or sharing such images or videos with others could mean they are committing a crime. However, if a genuine mistake is made, it would be treated as such by the Police.

Karen Nye
School Improvement Manager (Inclusion)

Hampshire County Council Children’s Services Department

 

Teenage pregnancy rate halved in Hampshire

Teenage pregnancy rate halved in Hampshire

Teenage pregnancy rates across Hampshire have more than halved over the last 16 years according to figures from the Office of National Statistics, thanks to a sustained and successful multi-agency focus.

Councillor Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, said:

“This is really good news and shows that the County Council’s investment in education programmes targeting young people over the years is paying off.

“Working to reduce the rate of teenage conceptions among girls aged 15-17 is a priority in the Hampshire Children and Young People’s Plan (CYPP 2015-18). The focus, commitment and hard work of all the partner agencies has seen the teenage conception rate reduce year on year since 2009. For young people who go on to become young parents, support is available to ensure positive outcomes for them and their children.

“Data over the years has shown that teenage parents tend to do less well at school and are more likely to become NEETs (not in education, employment or training). This means that they often face a future of low paid jobs or unemployment. In turn, the children of teenage parents are more likely to live in poverty and are more likely to become teenage parents themselves. Reducing the number of teenage conceptions has been a priority for the Council for many years and a lot of work has gone into identifying the most vulnerable teenagers in the county and supporting them with information so that they are able to make informed safer sex and lifestyle choices.”

In Hampshire free multi agency SRE training is provided for all practitioners working with young people. ‘Girl Talk, Boy Talk’ is a single gender SRE programme delivered in small groups. This programme is aimed at supporting young people make positive choices around relationships and sexual health.

Sexual health information, advice and contraception services are provided by the specialist integrated sexual health service and access to free condoms is available from a number of trained advisors across Hampshire. Young women can access free emergency hormonal contraception from many accredited pharmacies in Hampshire. The ‘Get It On‘ website has full details of available local services.

Overall Hampshire has seen a 55.7 per cent reduction in teenage conception rates since 1998 to 2014, with rates steadily declining in all 11 districts in Hampshire. This is above the national reduction of 51.1 per cent and South East region reduction of 50.3 per cent.

The Hampshire annual 2014 provisional teenage conception rate was 15.9 per 1,000 female population aged 15 to 17. This is an 18.5 per cent reduction from 2013 when there were 465 conceptions compared to 377 conceptions in 2014.

 

Save our Children’s Centres & Early Help Hubs

Save our Children’s Centres & Early Help Hubs

I have been involved in the campaign against cuts to our children’s centres and early help hubs in Hampshire, partly through my role as the Chair of the New Forest East Children’s Centre Partnership Board, and as a member of the New Forest Early Help Hub as a local children’s and youth worker.

How can you join the campaign?

Most importantly please add your views to the Consultation that Hampshire County Council are running.  If you’re not sure how best to respond, read the New Forest East Cluster Children’s Centre Partnership Board’s advice for completing the Consultation Questionnaire.

Please also sign the petition to save the Hampshire Children’s Centres.

The Challenge

New Forest Children's CentreHampshire County Council is asking for the views of service users, other stakeholders and members of the public, on a proposed new Family Support Service for families with children aged 0–19 years (or up to age 25 for young adults with learning difficulties and/or disabilities).

The theory of a 0-19 united service is a positive move, and one that has been developing over the last few years through the way professionals have been working closer together.

Worryingly though the proposal includes the closing of 43 Children’s Centres, and reducing the current staffing levels (currently 300 employees) for the Children’s Centres and the Early Help Hub by 60%.

The context is clearly driven by economic challenges: the County Council must meet a funding shortfall of £98 million by April 2017, and of this, the Council have decided that £21.5 million must be met from the Children’s Services budget.  These proposals for changes to Children’s Centres and Early Help Hubs total £8.5 million of savings.


What are Children’s Centres & Early Help Hubs?

Introduced 17 years ago by the Labour government as Children's Centre 1Sure Start, children’s centres are designed to help parents in the community, providing a central hub for activities for under 5s, early education, health and family support. They have faced heavy cuts as a result of dwindling council budgets and hundreds have closed over the past five years, either by shutting down entirely or through mergers.

The Early Help Hub is a more recent innovation that came as a result of The Munro Review of Child Protection which argued a moral argument, a timing argument (now or never) to put right the problems in early years support; and an economic argument that early help hub was cost effective.

10 reasons we MUST keep Children’s Centres & Early Help Hubs

10 reasons we MUST keep Children’s Centres & Early Help Hubs

The Challenge

Hampshire County Council is asking for the views of service users, other stakeholders and members of the public, on a proposed new Family Support Service for families with children aged 0–19 years (or up to age 25 for young adults with learning difficulties and/or disabilities).

The theory of a 0-19 united service is a positive move, and one that has been developing over the last few years through the way professionals have been working closer together.

Worryingly though the proposal includes the closing of 43 Children’s Centres, and reducing the current staffing levels (currently 300 employees) for the Children’s Centres and the Early Help Hub by 60%.

The context is clearly driven by economic challenges: the County Council must meet a funding shortfall of £98 million by April 2017, and of this, the Council have decided that £21.5 million must be met from the Children’s Services budget.  These proposals for changes to Children’s Centres and Early Help Hubs total £8.5 million of savings.

What are Children’s Centres & Early Help Hubs?

Introduced 17 years ago by the Labour government as Sure Start, children’s centres are designed to help parents in the community, providing a central hub for activities for under 5s, early education, health and family support. They have faced heavy cuts as a result of dwindling council budgets and hundreds have closed over the past five years, either by shutting down entirely or through mergers.

The Early Help Hub is a more recent innovation that came as a result of The Munro Review of Child Protection which argued a moral argument, a timing argument (now or never) to put right the problems in early years support; and an economic argument that early help hub was cost effective.

 

 

10 reasons we MUST keep Children’s Centres & Early Help Hubs

  1. The high level of reach: In the New Forest East cluster of Children’s Centres reach 84.5% of children under the age of 5 (3,648 out of 4319 children) – these are children who engage with universal and targeted services (this is 12.1% above the Hampshire County Council average).  Even in the most deprived area of the cluster (Cadland and Forest First Children’s Centre) 83.7% of families are reached with universal and targeted activities.
  2. The support and development of parenting skills: over 4,600 parents in the last year across Hampshire had attended evidence-based parenting programmes such as PEEP, Positive Parenting Programme (Triple P) or Incredible Years in the last year.
  3. The number of parents supported into work and education: Over 1,000 parents across Hampshire have been supported into work, education, training or volunteering by their local Children’s Centre.
  4. The support and development of health lifestyles: 514 parents attended evidence based healthy lifestyle programmes such as Cook & Eat and Henry.
  5. The increase in accessing Early Years education: the Children’s Centres have actively promoted the 2 year old offer, and by Autumn term 2015 78% of eligible children were taking up the free entitlement in Good or Outstanding settings.  In the the area of highest deprivation in the cluster (Holbury and North Blackfield) there is an 84% take-up rate.
  6. The support of parental health: research has shown using Children’s Centres in a consistent way predicted improved mental health outcomes for mothers later on, and taking children to organised activities (anywhere although Children’s Centres currently lead the way on under 5s provision) also predicted improved physical health outcomes for the mother.  Most importantly the research showed that mothers who attended centres that were expanding services (in combination with no cuts to services) also showed improving mental health compared to mothers attending centres that experienced budget cuts and were reducing services.
  7. The support for Child Protection: 100% of children on Child Protection Plans are known to the Children’s Centres through routine notification by the Social Care Team and a very large majority in the New Forest East cluster (88.4%) are actively engaged (10.7% higher than the Hampshire average).
  8. The economic dangers: the National Audit Office states that it costs £33k to put a child into foster care, and £135k to put a child into residential care.  All it takes is 258 children (23.45 children per District) taken into foster care or 63 children (5.7 children per District) taken into residential care for the whole of the £8.5m savings to be wiped out.  Q1 of 2015 saw 2,073 children open to the Early Help Hub across Hampshire, of which 55% were stepped down from Child Protection and Child in Need plans and 45% were referred up from other agencies.  If Early Help Hub services are dismantled how many more children and young people will end up on Child Protection plans?
  9. The political damage: only a few months ago Hampshire County Council stated that “The 2015-18 Children’s & Young People’s Plan will continue to be underpinned by our commitment to early help for children, young people and their families, identifying as early as possible whether a child or family need support, enhancing parental capacity, helping them to access services, and working together to ensure this has maximum impact.” – is this just another example of a broken promise by politicians.
  10. The voluntary sector cannot do anymore: running throughout the Hampshire consultation is the assumption that the voluntary sector will step in and run more universal and low-level targeted support.  In the last year the voluntary sector has seen grants from Hampshire County Council shrink from £2.4m to £1.1m and yet they expect the voluntary sector to be able to increase their service capacity.  In the New Forest Early Help Hub nearly 50% of cases are led and co-ordinated by members of the voluntary sector, again if there are 60% reductions in staffing who is going to be taking on the co-ordination of these cases?

Two-thirds of England’s children’s centres, more than 2,300, have had their budget cut in the past year, according to an annual census by the charity 4Children. These cuts follow four consecutive years of shrinking finances and means that almost a quarter report facing a highly uncertain future.  More than half of the Children’s Centres  who had experienced a cut said it would mean reductions to frontline services.  Now, a further 130 centre sites are at risk of closure, according to the 4Children research.

Quotes from key leaders

Imelda Redmond, the charity’s chief executive, said:

“More than a million families use children’s centres. No other part of our national infrastructure offers the same opportunity to identify and address problems early; bring communities together and make public services work better for families.”

“Year on year reductions to children’s centre budgets are a real cause for concern. Our census shows that cuts are directly impacting on their abilities to reach out and support families. The trend towards targeting services on the most vulnerable risks missing those families who we would otherwise only see through universal services.”

The shadow Education Secretary, Lucy Powell, said:

“We’ve had nothing but broken promises from this Government on Sure Start. There are now 763 fewer centres since 2010 and services are withering on the vine in many areas.”

A DfE spokesperson said:

“We want to see strong children’s centres across the country, offering a wide range of local, flexible services, tackling disadvantage, and helping all children fulfil their potential. That is why we invested more than £2bn in early intervention last year.”

What can you do?

Please sign the petition to save the Hampshire Children’s Centres.

Most importantly please add your views to the Consultation that Hampshire County Council are running.

Children’s Services cuts could be dangerous

Children’s Services cuts could be dangerous

Here’s a brief interview I did with BBC Radio Solent this morning on the issue of Children’s Services cuts:

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Hampshire Libraries

Hampshire Libraries

I’m a big fan of libraries.  I grew up regularly going into town to get out a wide range of books – especially biographies, sport and history books.

Hampshire Library Service, like so many others across the country, has been going through a review as part of the austerity measures.  A paper on ‘Library Service Transformation – Strategy to 2020‘ is due to be considered at the Culture & Communities Select Committee on 22nd March.

Hythe_LibraryWith my current role I find it difficult to make the time to regularly get to the library, let alone read for enjoyment.  But one of the best discoveries I made in recent years was the opportunity to download and read e-Magazines for free from the Hampshire Library Service.

More recently I’ve learnt that you can borrow up to 5 e-books and/or audio books for up to 14 days for free?  You can download eBooks and eAudio books onto your ereader, desktop, laptop or mobile device using Overdrive.

  • up to 5 items can be borrowed at a time
  • up to 14 day lending period depending on item
  • no charge for loans

For more information please do visit the Hampshire Library Service website.

 

Hampshire Making a Difference Award

Youth Tube logo

The search is on to find Hampshire youngsters who, through their own exceptional efforts, are helping to make a positive difference in their local community, by being active good citizens.

The Hampshire Making a Difference Award will be presented by the Chairman of the County Council to the young person or group of young people (aged 5-11 or 12-18) who has done something exceptional to help others. It could be anything from helping a sick relative, neighbour or friend over a period of time, or supporting a local charity or long term project, to helping older people in the community, or showing an act of bravery.

The closing date for nominations is Thursday 31st January, and applications can be submitted online at the website or by picking up a form from any Hampshire County Council library or museum.