Family Services and Toddler Groups

Family Services and Toddler Groups

Care and Learning Alliance’s Family Services

To learn more about the Family Support service, click on the accordion links below.

What is Family Services?

Our Family Services team support and provide Toddler Groups in communities throughout Highland providing a wide range of support, information and guidance to Toddler Group committees and parents/carers who attend with their children.

Family Services delivery is tailored to the needs of each group including:

CALA Play and Learn Sessions

Come along and join us in our engaging and friendly environment for babies and young children. Enjoy some child led, play based activities indoors and out, including messy play, craft, imaginary play, singing and physical games. These sessions are currently running each week at:

Alness – Perrins Centre – Monday’s 9.30am – 11am

Nairn – Community Hall – Monday’s 1.30pm – 3pm

Inverness – Merkinch Centre – Tuesday’s 9.30am – 11pm

Aviemore – Community Hub – Tuesday’s 1.30pm – 3pm

Muir of Ord – Village Hall – Wednesday 9.30am – 11am

Inverness – Raigmore – Thursday 9.30am – 11am

 Individual Groups

  • Supporting both new and established committees as required
  • Supporting parental involvement in the running of the group and engagement in children’s play and learning
  • Advice and support on how to run a group eg. session format, layout, health and safety linked to national guidance


  • Being a listening ear, facilitating discussions, signposting to family information and guidance eg. healthy eating, sleeping, financial support
  • Linking parents/families with other professionals
  • Supporting parent confidence in providing play experiences and value in the positive impact this has for them and their children
  • Increasing awareness of the benefit of a range of experiences on children’s and adult mental health and wellbeing.
  • Developing effective relationships and parent networks

Young children

Learning and development are supported through play:

  • Book bug sessions – many of our Family Service Practitioners deliver fun, interactive stories, songs and rhymes using Book bug and his puppet friends.
  • Baby massage – provision of baby massage sessions for parents and their babies to join in with.
  • Provision of introductory sensory messy play experiences using eg.  shaving foam, gloop, water play, finger & foot painting, treasure baskets and boxes, energetic play and song time that can be also be done at home.
  • Active play sessions

Making a difference

Our Family Services team strive to ensure they make a positive impact on the lives of children and families through their regular visits and tailored support based on parents and children’s needs and interests.

Our service delivery is fully committed to the Scottish Government’s aspiration for Scotland to be the best place for children to grow up and puts children at the heart of all that we do.

Our practitioners’ access continuous professional learning, their practice is informed and evaluated against national guidance including:

  • Getting it Right for Every Child,
  • Pre-Birth to Three,
  • Realising the Ambition: Being Me.

Making a difference – some of the positive impact parents/others have shared: 

For children:

  • A fun, exciting and creative environment for children to explore & learn more about the world around them
  • Opportunities for social interactions with other children
  • Experiences to support and extend children’s development and enjoyment

For parents/carers:

  • A time to come together and share experiences
  • Providing support through friendship, advice and encouragement
  • Playing with the children and encouraging the parent to play/read with their child
  • Signposting to other local services
  • Assistance to access benefits, grants and financial support
  • Helps reduce feelings isolation during maternity/paternity leave
  • Enables parents/carers to feel part of the community
  • Further develops parents understanding of their children’s learning and development and how best to support this

Partnership working

Our Family Services teamwork in partnership with a range of professionals to provide cohesive services and support including Highland Council, Health Visitors, Community Service Workers, Communities Community Groups and local funders.

Project work includes:

  • Ukrainian Support – toddler groups run each Wednesday 1.30pm – 3pm at the Ukrainian Hub, Inverness 
  • Supporting our Afghan families to take part in English Language Classes while their children take part in fun, stage appropriate play.
  • Providing play sessions for children visiting family members in prison.
  • X Programme
  • Active Play – Family Services Play Practitioners deliver ‘Active Play’ sessions in Primary Schools, Early Learning and Childcare settings, Parent and Toddler Groups and Pop-up play events predominantly in and around the Inverness area. 

Family Services Contact

Corrina Shearer

Head of Quality, Learning and Workforce Development

Tel: 01463 222569

Mobile: 07920852762

For Gaelic Toddler Groups and information, click on the link on the right

Scroll down and explore our interactive resources for you and your baby/toddler to enjoy at home

Stories, songs and rhymes

Click on the tabs below to access our variety of interactive stories and rhymes to watch and join in with.

Daily Routine - Bath time
Daily Routines - Out and about
Daily routines - mealtimes
Songs for morning routines
Winter Songs

Winter Songs

Sing along with Nicki to some of our favourite winter songs.

Scottish Songs Singalong

Scottish Songs

Join in and sing along with some old familiar Scottish childhood songs.

Click here to access the video

More songs and rhymes

Songs and Rhymes

More interactive songs and rhymes for you to join in with

Click here to access

Goldilocks and the three bears

Goldilocks and the three bears

Narrated by Nicki Hutchison using props

Click here to access

Three little pigs

Three little pigs

An interactive story narrated by Nicki Hutchison supported by puppets and props

Click here to access

Singing with your child

Importance of singing to/with your child

Nicki Hutchison shares the positive impact singing with and to your child has on their all-round development

Click here to access

Songs and rhymes

Songs and rhymes

An interactive song and rhyme time for you and your child to join in with

Click here to access

Early Communication

Click on the tabs below to access our series on supporting Early Communication

Introduction to communication
Eye Contact

Ideas to support your child’s play

Click on the links below to access our variety of interactive play ideas for babies and toddlers.

Musical instruments and interactions
Bathtime Fun!

Lots of fun bathtime ideas

Click here to access

Pancake Play


Lot’s of fun ideas for pancake day. Click here to access


Sensory Bottles
Rainbow Rice

Rainbow Rice Activity

Click here to find out how to create this.


Ice Ornaments

Ice Ornaments

All you need is nature! Try this fun idea with your children – great for all ages!

Click here to access the video

Fun ideas for threading

Ideas for threading

Join Nicki for her fun ideas for threading – supporting your toddler’s fine motor skills, perseverance and cognitive development.

Click here to access the video

Nature Art

Nature Art

Some simple ideas for creating pictures without pens and paper!

Click here to access the video

Nature Art

Nature Art

Have a look at Eilidh’s ideas for some simple ‘art’ play using things we find in our environments.

Click here to access the video

Treasure Basket Play

Treasure baskets

Click here to access

How to make oatmeal playdough

Oatmeal playdough 

A quick and simple recipe for hours of fun!

Click here to access

Polish: Songs, stories, rhymes and play ideas

Click on the links below to access our variety of interactive sessions to support the English Language development for families and children who have Polish as their first language.

Nalesnikowa Zabawa

Ladybird – Biedroneczka

Rhyme with Kasia

Click here to access the video

Three Little Pigs

Three Little Pigs – Trzy małe świnki

Join Kasia for the story of the ‘Three Little Pigs’.

Click here to access the video

Balloon Game

Balloon Game – Baloniku nasz malutki

Join Kasia for some fun with balloons and rhymes.

Click here to access the video.



12345 Once I caught a fish alive

12345 Once I caught a fish alive…..12345 Kiedyś złapałem rybe….

Join Kasia to sing the rhyme – 12345 – Once I caught a fish alive…

Click here to access the video

The Crayfish

The Crayfish – Idzie rak

A fun rhyme with Kasia

Click here to access the video

Sleepy Bear

Sleepy Bear – Stary niedźwiedź

Join Kasia for the Sleepy Bear rhyme

Click here to access the video

Koci, koci łapki

Visiting Grandparents – Koci, koci łapki

Join Kasia for the rhyme: We are going to grandparents” – “Koci, koci łapki!

Click here to access the video

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