A big job at any age: Getting young parents the support they deserve

Posted by Amy Woodworth / Monday 11 July 2016 / Children's centres

Becoming a parent is a big job at any age.

Sometimes parents in their teens or early twenties find they face particular challenges – from managing a family budget, to creating nutritious meals or dealing with loneliness. What they all have in common is that they want their children have the best possible start in life. 

In June we caught up with parents and staff at a children’s centre in Farnborough, Hampshire. The centre runs special ‘stay and play’ sessions for young parents, and we wanted to find out more about what our services do to support them. By addressing their specific concerns and making sure that they feel welcomed and understood, these services help young parents and their families to work through any problems they may be having. 

Our children’s centres provide a range of courses and activities just for young parents, from cooking classes to day trips to multi-week parenting support courses. These courses include one on managing children’s behaviour, giving parents better techniques that can reduce stress and help them build better relationships with their children. We also run sessions that support parents to reflect on how they were parented themselves, considering which parts were good and what they would like to do differently with their own children. 

Young parents can find that they are the only ones in the social circles with children, which can feel isolating. These groups help young parents get together, along with their children, to make new friends. They are also safe spaces for young parents to meet and be listened to by professionals. Young parents sometimes feel they struggle to be taken seriously by universal services, and so these specialist groups allow them to talk through any difficulties or worries that they have.   

It was fantastic to see the group in action, where both parents and children were clearly having fun and getting the support that they need. We spoke to one mum who had started using Action for Children services when she was pregnant and had since been back many times with her baby to join in activities and get advice from staff. 

Parents are referred to Action for Children services from health visitors, nursery staff and even their GPs. We want to make sure that every parent gets as much support as they need to help them and their family. That’s why we run children’s centres and family support services across the UK, reaching tens of thousands of families every year. Why not see what we have going on in your area? 

And if you agree with us that every child deserves the best start in life, and that parents deserve support, sign up to Fair By Five – the campaign to make child development a national priority by 2020. 

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