Flexible Childcare Services Scotland launches a ‘Support and Connect’ service for support families through lockdown

Flexible Childcare Services Scotland (FCSS), who still provide childcare for key worker parents, has announced today that it has received funding from the Wellbeing Fund, a fund to support organisations across the third sector that are providing important services to people who are most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund will allow FCSS to create a ‘support and connect’ service where families will have regular contact with a known person from their childcare team. These fully qualified, experienced and first aid trained staff will provide direct support to children and families. They will also distribute ‘Connection Boxes’ containing resources, toys, games, books and ideas to help families maintain their health and wellbeing during lockdown.

Susan McGhee, chief executive at FCSS said: “There is lots on line but very little practical support for families with young children or children with additional needs to find things to do safely and happily from home. Many of the families we work with are telling us they do not have the toys, games, books and other equipment needed to keep their children occupied and engaged with learning. They simply can’t afford them. Even if they could, the ideas and direct support in how to use the resources, provided by our team, are as important as the items themselves.”

The boxes will be created by experienced early learning and childcare practitioners, their knowledge and understanding of the individual child will support the progression of learning, development and wellbeing. The contents will also be tailored to the age of the child and to their individual support needs as required. Signposting information for local support groups in Inverness, Dundee and across Aberdeenshire will also be included.

The Connection Boxes have been designed to promote positive mental health for families, bringing them together and providing activities to keep their minds focused during the pandemic.

McGhee adds, “As well as the children’s resources each box will contain a small care package for the adult members of the household. We know that the parents we work with often go without prioritising the needs for their children, so want to ensure we are caring for the adults in the household too.”

“Equally important is the distribution method where members of our team would doorstep deliver the boxes, giving us face to face, albeit socially distanced, visibility of the families we work with, enabling us to check in with them to make sure they are okay. We are very aware that it can be difficult for people to ask for support but these are challenging times and many people do need some extra help, seeing a familiar member of our team will give another opportunity for a connection, we’ll be able to ask how the family are coping and offer further support where needed.”

In addition to the “Connection Boxes” FCSS aim to offer larger pieces of equipment, either on loan or given to the family, where there is a specific requirement. For instance, if a child’s buggy was broken the charity would replace it allowing them to engage in permitted outdoor activities. The charity is also looking at supporting low income family’s digital connectivity, possibly providing prepaid dongles or other wifi devices.