London Borough of Waltham Forest Children and Family Centres Services Research

We are delighted to have been commissioned by the London Borough of Waltham Forest (LBWF) to carry out research to support the ongoing development of services delivered via four Children and Family Centres (CFCs) in the Borough (Universal / Universal Plus, Best Start and Healthy Child Programme services).

 

Waltham Forest CFCs offer services where families can enjoy activities and receive support and advice. Skilled and experienced staff provide information and advice on child development, child and family health, parenting skills and family support for families with children aged 0-5. These services are delivered from four CFC hubs situated in Chingford, Walthamstow, Leytonstone and Leyton, and a range of other venues across Waltham Forest, and more recently via a virtual offer due to COVID-19.

Waltham Forest is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in London and has a younger than average population, with 28% of residents aged 0-21 compared to 25% nationally. The Waltham Forest CFCs are the hubs for a range of services that are open to all Waltham Forest residents and work together to support early child development and promote health and wellbeing. The CFCs and the services they provide typically apply to children aged 0-5 and their parents and carers, but some services (such as School Nursing) are relevant to those up to the age of 19.

The contract for the provision of these services ends in 2022, and LBWF want to carry out important research to inform the design of the re-commissioned service model. The research will gather the lived experiences and insights of parents and carers (and young people aged 16+ in the case of the School Nursing Service), encompassing both services users as well as non-users.

The research will inform how the reach and uptake of services can be increased in future, so that CFC services can play a further enhanced role in reducing inequalities amongst families. The research will explore:

• What role do CFC services play in the lives of residents?
• What are the strengths in existing service delivery?
• What are the opportunities for improvement in existing service delivery?
• How can CFC services better support those residents who currently don’t engage?

Good quality services to support the development of children, young people and their families with a range of needs are vital, and this research will play a key role in informing the future direction of CFC services for local families.

With our team having successfully adapted to COVID-19 virtual research methodologies, we will conduct a careful mixture of telephone and virtual interviews supported by a virtual Online Bulletin Board, as well as virtual focus groups to work up the findings to practically inform future service design

Our report will highlight the lived experiences of users and non-users and will communicate the key characteristics of a potential future delivery model, taking into consideration priorities and other learning that comes from the conversations that LBWF are having with a range of stakeholders.

If you would like to know more about this research or you have a similar project in mind, please contact Research Director Anne Forshaw; anne.forshaw@melresearch.co.uk.