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What is a children's centre?
A children’s centre is a place, or group of places, where local families with young children can go to enjoy facilities and receive support that they need, including free parenting support. The facilities and activities provided are designed especially for parents with a child under five years old, or those expecting a baby.
Children’s centre engagement summary
The Hackney Consultation Team ran an engagement campaign from 23 May to 5 July 2019 to seek feedback from current, past and prospective users of children’s centres to find out the services they value most and how they could be improved in the future.
Services, information and support for families with children under five
Early education integrated with childcare
- Full daycare
8am-6pm, five days a week, for a minimum of 48 weeks a year (you have to pay for this service).
- Who is eligible for a place?
Children aged between 12 weeks and five years whose parents live or work in Hackney.
- Access to children's centre childcare
The children’s centre will give you an application form and information about fees and tax credits. After you have handed in the form, the children’s centre will contact you to discuss your needs and you will be placed on the admissions register.
- Free childcare for 2-4 year olds
Find out more about free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds
Free activities for children aged 0-5 years
- For a full range of free activities please see the timetables for individual children's centres
Free activities for babies aged 0-18 months
- Free activities and support includes advice about keeping your baby healthy, baby massage, and advice about feeding. See the timetable for each children's centre for more information
Children’s centres are a community hub offering a range of services in the local community available to all. Centres meet and engage new parents at places such as health clinics and encourage families to use the wide range of services on offer. If you are planning a community event then let your local children’s centre know and they may be able to help.
Children’s centres are designed to support local families. The best way to do this is to involve parents in the planning of the services and activities on offer. If you would like to be involved, or just have a few comments or suggestions to help us improve our service, ask your local children’s centre about their Parents Forum where you can share your views. Parent Forums are also a great way to meet other parents.
Free training and employment support
If you are looking to develop your skills to either get a job or to help you reach a desired goal, our children’s centres offer a wide programme of activities including numeracy and literacy classes, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages). Centres also offer individual career development with support in areas such as CV writing, interview techniques and job searching. Whatever your goal and how far away it may seem, your local children’s centre can support you. Many courses have crèche facilities. For more information contact your local children’s centre or check out their individual timetables for what’s on offer.
Free child and family health services for all
Children's centres work together with health professionals to make it easier for you to get advice and attend any health appointments. At a children's centre you can:
- Chat with a Speech and Language Therapist if you would like some advice or reassurance about your child’s speech and language development. Check out the “Talking Walk-in” appointments on the children’s centre timetables. If your child does need some further support, speech and language therapy appointments are held in children’s centres
- See a Midwife for all your antenatal and postnatal appointments
- Chat with a Dietician if you need support or are concerned about your child’s eating. Centres also offer fun courses to help you shop, cook and eat affordably, and provide your child with the healthy balanced diet they need to grow into healthy adults. Check out the timetable for your local children’s centre or call them to find out more
- Chat with your local Health Visitor or take your child for their routine health reviews including development checks. Check out your local children’s centre timetable to find out more
- Ask to see a family practitioner if you are concerned about your child’s mental health and feel they may benefit from counselling, or you would just like to talk through some concerns you may have
Parenting and family support for you and your family
Children’s centres offer support for all parents. You can find out more about our family support service. Support is also available from the following organisations for issues such as relationship support, financial difficulties, housing, immigration or domestic violence from the organisations listed below:
- Family Action
- Hackney Migrant Centre
- One Housing
- Citizens Advice
- Nia Project
Portage Service for children with a disability
Children’s centres work closely with the specialist portage service. Portage is an educational, personalised home-visiting service for families who have a pre-school child with additional needs. The service works closely with families and other services involved with the child e.g. physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, and can:
- help families understand their individual child’s development
- offer practical ideas, strategies and appropriate toys and materials to promote developmental progress
- help the child make a successful move to playgroup or nursery
- provide support with claims for benefits, keyworking and assessment, e.g. for education health and care plans
- help promote inclusion at Children’s Centres
Related documents and links
Home learning activities
Ideas and resources for early years home learning activities
Children's Centres Engagement Summary Report (PDF, 1MB)
This report presents the feedback from the borough wide engagement exercise on the future of Hackney's children's centres
Nurseries and playgroups in Hackney (PDF, 3MB)
Information about free nursery education and choosing a nursery, playgroup or nursery class in a primary school
Children’s Speech and Language Therapy for Hackney and the City
Information about how to support children’s speech and language development and how to access speech and language therapy services in Hackney
Hackney Find Support Services Map
This map displays voluntary and community organisations offering help to Hackney’s diverse community
NHS Choices pregnancy and baby guide
Family Lives is a charity with over three decades of experience helping parents to deal with the changes that are a constant part of family life