News from CALA Family Services

The Family Services team have supported community Baby and Toddler groups around the Highlands over this last year.  Despite the past 12 months being far from ordinary, our member groups have continued to benefit from their membership in lots of ways.

Family Practitioners continue to support committees with up-to-date Scottish Government guidance.  A representative from CALA has been present at government meetings throughout the year, not only ensuring our advice is current, but also advocating the importance of support for families with young children and reflecting pressures on community toddler groups.  With this knowledge, our practitioners have been supporting those who were able to meet as regulations allowed both outside and inside.  One Chairperson said “We would not have managed to reopen our toddler groups without your help. We would not have felt confident enough about all the rules or even thought it possible. It was only through your help and encouragement that the groups re-opened.”

Family Practitioners have also been constant support for families as they navigate parenting and family life in such different circumstances.  Outdoor and online groups have provided key support to families as places to meet and to make connections with others, which supports the health and wellbeing of parents and carers.  They have also become forums to discuss home-based activities to support their child’s development.  Many families have also explored the ever-expanding resources on our CALA website, including our dedicated Parent Portal, Family Services page and Play and Learning page which encourages play and learning opportunities at home.  Most recently on the Family Services page, we have begun a series of short clips focusing on supporting children’s early communication.  The members-only Facebook page gives further useful tips and links. 

Member groups also have access to the MembersZone section of the website, which has useful templates and documents, to support the running of groups and a committee induction pack, with top tips for new committees.  As part of their membership, groups receive three vouchers to take part in further training from CALA’s e-learning zone. 20 courses are available, with topics ranging from an Introduction to Risk Assessment to Top Tips for Interacting with Young Children, or Gender Equal Play, there is plenty to choose from.  You can also currently access the ‘Supporting Young Children’s Behaviour for Parents’ e-module here, currently being gifted for free during COVID.

The family Services team have also recently undertaken Walk Leader training with Paths for All.  Partnering with other organisations, we can’t wait to offer member groups the chance to take part in Buggy Walks and Toddler Toddles, as a way to increase health and wellbeing; enjoy the outdoors and support child development. These walks are now permitted under government regulations and plans are being made to establish these early next term.

If you would like to explore membership for your community group click here or contact the Inverness Office 01463 222569.

As restrictions begin to ease and we can begin to get out and about more, our Family Services Practitioners would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Easter holiday and look forward to seeing you next term – Happy Easter!

Out to play – new chapters added

Today Scottish  Government, in partnership with Inspiring Scotland and the Care Inspectorate, have published 3 new sections of the guidance document ‘Out To Play’.

‘Out To Play’ is practical guidance to help create outdoor play experiences in childcare. The 3 new sections cover ASN, Childminders and School-Aged Childcare.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, these sections are only available as digital copies at the moment.

·       Practitioners supporting children with additional support needs

·       Childminding services

·       School Aged Childcare services

 

 

Impacts of the pandemic on young children survey – help us to help you!

Thank you to all who responded to our previous consultation – it is hard to believe that 6 months have now passed!

CALA are keen to continue to monitor and understand the impact of the pandemic on our young children.

We invite you to share your thoughts on any impact you feel the pandemic has had on you and or your child/children via this simple 3 question consultation survey.

We will collate your responses anonymously (no personal information will be retained) and use them to both inform CALA services and share with the Scottish Government to help inform the direction of support available to help mitigate impacts.

Click here to access the consultation.

Thank you in advance for your help with this.

Gaelic Medium Information Day

Latha Gaidhlig air Loidhne – Online Gaelic Day for parents interested in GME

27mh den Mhàrt – 10:30-13:00/27th March – 10:30-13:00

Click here to view the programme

Click here to download and complete a registration form.

Interested parents/carers should return their completed registration form to [email protected]

 

Gaelic Parent and Toddler Newsletters

Despite the difficult times that we find ourselves all in with COVID 19 restrictions, our Gaelic Parent and Toddler Development Workers continue to be solution-focused and innovative in finding ways to communicate and support the development of the Gaelic Language with our youngest children. Click on the links to find out about some of the things they have been doing and useful links to resources in their latest March 21 Newsletter.

Click here to access the newsletter in Gaelic

Click here to access the newsletter in English

CALA Family Services and Bookbug

The Scottish Book Trust, home of Bookbug, states “Bookbug is Scotland’s universal early year’s book gifting programme and aims to inspire a love of stories, songs and rhymes from birth.”  Throughout their early years, every child should receive four Bookbug bags containing books, and other resources which facilitate families to share songs and rhymes and supports all areas of child development.

Many CALA Family Practitioners are privileged to be able to deliver Bookbug Sessions, which are free, organised sessions held for children and their care-givers to share in songs, rhymes and a story on a regular basis.  These sessions have moved online in recent months and toddler groups are loving the opportunity to get together – albeit virtually – to share songs and rhymes together and listen to a story.

The number of groups requesting Bookbug sessions is increasing each week.  Over the last five weeks, eight groups have begun to meet regularly in Inverness-shire, Caithness, Easter Ross and Sutherland, with more set to follow.  This includes two Gaelic groups for families speaking or learning the language.  Feedback from families shows appreciation for the opportunity to participate in a shared, fun-filled activity with their wee ones.  Adults have commented too on the importance of this connection with other families at this time when so many feel isolated.  Following on from the Bookbug session, many practitioners also give an idea of a linked [email protected] activity supporting children’s development, which families may wish to do over the following week.  Take a look at the following video for how Bookbug sessions can benefit your child’s development:

Dr Suzanne Zeedyk – Scottish Book Trust

We also encourage families to consider downloading the Bookbug Songs and Rhymes App, which is a fantastic resource with lots of ideas of songs and rhymes that can be shared throughout the day.  Free to download and use, it’s possible to make your own playlist featuring your current favourites, find songs and lyrics and useful actions.  A treasure trove is just ready to be explored by your family!

 Bookbug’s songs and rhymes app – Scottish Book Trust

If you are keen to join a Bookbug session, please contact your Family Services Practitioner or the CALA office for more details on 01463 222569.

Scottish Child Payment & Best Start Grant School Age Payment

Scottish Child Payment is open for applications

Scottish Child Payment is a new payment for families on tax credits or certain benefits to help towards the costs of looking after a child. It’s £40 paid every four weeks for each child under six.

The payment starts on Monday 15 February 2021, with first payments made from the end of February onwards, but Social Security Scotland has been taking applications early to help manage demand.

You can apply if your child will be under six on 15 February 2021.

The qualifying benefits are:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Social

Security Scotland will ask for evidence that the person applying is responsible for a child under six, usually through the child being named on a benefit claim form.

If more than one person applies for the same child, there’s a process for deciding who gets the payment – prioritising the person who the child lives with most of the time.

Scottish Child Payment will not be taken into account for UK benefit and tax credit assessments and there is no cap on the number of children this payment can support.

First payments will be made from late February onwards. When someone gets paid will depend on how many applications we get and the process each individual application goes through.

If someone applied before Monday 15 February 2021, this will be the date that their payment will be calculated from. If they apply after this date, it will be calculated from the date that they applied. Payments will be made every four weeks following the first payment.

Find out more information and apply at mygov.scot/scottish-child-payment or call Social Security Scotland on 0800 182 2222.

FactsheetsScottish Child Payment Factsheet.pdf – These are also available in a variety of different languages if required on the Social Security Scotland website.


Best Start Grant – School Age

 

People with children who were born between 1 March 2015 and 29 February 2016 could be eligible for a Best Start Grant School Age Payment but they must apply before 28 February this year.

FactsheetBest Start Grant School Age Factsheet

Factsheets available in a variety of languages and can be found on the Social Security Scotland website.

 

CPL Opportunity for Practitioners working in OSC /Childminders in Highland

Introduction to Play Practice – 1-hour online session.

As part of Highland Council’s CPD staff development programme, CALA will be delivering a 1-hour online session on ‘Introduction to Play Practice’. These sessions are suited to practitioners working with children in Out of School Care, Breakfast or Holiday Clubs and childminders in Highland.

Date:

Wednesday 17th February 2021

Choice of sessions available:

  • 9.30am – 10.30am
  • 11am- 12pm
  • 1pm – 2pm
  • 2.30pm – 3.30pm

Full details and booking via  http://highland.cpdservice.net/ or contacting Highland Council CPD on 01463 702780.

 

Staying connected

Culbokie Out of School Club

Our responsive practitioners at Culbokie Fun Club shared how they had facilitated the children’s idea to show they were mindful of others by making small gifts and notes which they posted to friends so they would know they were thinking of them. This followed on from their discussions from children’s mental health week.

Several parents have been in touch with the setting to say how excited their children were to receive their gift. #SHANARRI in practice.

Click here to view

 

Family Services

CALA’s Family Practitioners continue to lead virtual Bookbug sessions, baby massage sessions and Gaelic sessions for some families across Highland.

Families who have taken part in these online sessions have said in their feedback, “online sessions are great for giving the kids something to look forward to.”  They are “not as good as the real thing but [are] the next best thing.”

 

Update from Scottish Government – Re-opening of ELC

Stated by the Scottish Government:

The First Minister today announced the Scottish Government’s intention that childcare settings can re-open to all pre-school children from 22nd February.

This is subject to continued progress in suppressing the virus and will be subject to final confirmation in two weeks’ time.

The Scottish Government has issued a letter to all registered childcare providers with more information.

You can read the letter here: https://bit.ly/3cynlWs

CALA 500

As part of CALA’s ongoing Health and Wellbeing programme, some of the CALA team have come together to participate in our very own CALA 500! Their aim was to work together to collectively collate their daily cycling, walking, running miles to see if they could complete 500 miles together between the 18th of January and 14th of February.
 
In true #TEAMCALA style, they met this target in just over a week! In order to keep the momentum going, they are now raising the bar and are going to aim for 500 miles per week!
 
Along with the benefits of getting out and about, the teams’ spirits are also being lifted by sharing of photographs of the stunning scenery from across Highland (and of course a few added extra photos of their four-legged friends!). We have shared a few photos below for you to enjoy.
 
We hope all our children, families, members and partners are finding time to get outside each day – it is amazing what even a few moments of fresh air can do for lifting the spirits!
 
Keep safe everyone.
 

Enrolment Week

Enrolment week for Early Learning and Childcare settings will take place from the 8th to 12th February 2021.

Children born between 1 March 2017 and 28 February 2019 are entitled to a funded Early Learning and Childcare place.

CALA has some available spaces in our settings throughout Highland.

Click here for further details of setting locations, contact details and information about each setting.

Further information on ELC Enrolment is available from the Highland Council  – click here