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Welcome to Hitchin and Rural Children's Centre Group.

To be able to access all of the features on our website, we recommend viewing our website using Google Chrome.

Children’s Centres provide a ‘one stop shop’ within your local community offering information and access to services for families and carers with children aged under five years and parents to-be. They aim to offer every child the best start in life.

Families, carers and parents to-be can benefit from a range of flexible services and support when they need it and in convenient locations.

You can find which is your nearest children centre by going on the Hertfordshire Children's Centre postcode checker. Click here for the link.

Children’s Centres can help you with:

  • Breastfeeding Support

  • Information about early education and childcare

  • Family learning activities

  • Parenting Courses

  • Employment or training advice

  • Outreach and family support

We work with other professionals including, GPs, Midwives, Early Years Settings, Schools, Health Visitors and Job Centres.

Hitchin and Rural Children's Centre Group covers the whole of Hitchin and the  villages of Breachwood Green, Charlton, Cockernhoe, Graveley, Hexton, Holwell,Ickleford, Lilley, Offley, Pirton, Preston, St Ippoylts and Whitwell  offering services for approximately 2978 children under five.

The Pre-School Learning Alliance is the lead agency for the Hitchin & Rural Group. 

It comprises of 3 centres. We have compiled a handbook for centre users.

hitchin and rural handbook for centre users

pdf icon Hitchin and Rural Children's Centre Group Handbook for Centre Users

Services are delivered from these sites and other venues in the community.

Bluebell

Oughton

York Road

Standhill Road

Mattocke Road

York Road

Hitchin

Hitchin

Hitchin

SG4 9AF

SG5 2NZ

SG5 1XA

01462 459043

01462 436927

01462 442438

9am - 3pm

9am - 4pm

9am -4pm

 

Registrations

We ask that anyone who uses the Hitchin and Rural Children's Centre Group is registered with us.

You can register online by clicking here. Thank you for taking the time to register with us. We will now be able to keep you up to date on suitable activities and courses available to you.

email : hitchinandruralgroup@pre-school.org.uk            

   

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About us

Our Team

Senior Leadership Team

Rebecca Terrell: Senior Outreach based at Oughton Children's Centre

Debbie Dellow: Senior Data Coordinator based at Bluebell Children's Centre

Caroline Evans: Senior Early Years Coordinator based at Oughton Children's Centre

Adult Learning

Julie Knight: Adult Learning Coordinator based at Bluebell Children's Centre

Under One's Coordinator

Rosie Cross: Under One's Coordinator based at Bluebell Children’s Centre

Administrative Team

Katherine Bell: Administrator based at Oughton and York Road Children's Centre

Lockman Uddin: Administrator based at Oughton and York Road Children's Centre

Catherine Daly: Administrator based at Bluebell and Oughton Children's Centre

Outreach Team

Melanie Turness: Family Outreach Worker based at York Road Children's Centre

Becky Stahl: Family Outreach Worker based at Oughton Children's Centre

Gaynor Stevenson: Family Outreach Worker based at Bluebell Children's Centre

Play Team

Becky Brendling: Play Coordinator based at Oughton Children's Centre

Laura Smith: Play Coordinator based at Oughton Children's Centre

Louise Chalkley: Play Assistant based at Oughton Children's Centre

Sarah Holloway: Play Assistant based at Oughton Children's Centre



 

 

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Our Services

Pre-schools, Day Nurseries and Schools in our area

Pre-schools

Pre-Schools provide care and early education for children from 2+ years until they enter school reception

  • offer sessions of up to four hours

  • organised and run by private, charity or voluntary organisations
  • pre-schools provide an

  • ...
Read more

Baby and Toddler Groups in our area

...

Read more

Free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

Free childcare for two year olds

...

Read more

SEND ( Special Educational Needs and Disability) - Local Offer

SEND - Local Offer

Changes in attitudes, law and practice over the last couple of decades has meant that most young children with special educational needs and disabilities now start their education in mainstream provision.  However, the system for identifying and meeting children’...

Read more

What to Expect When, A Parents Guide

What to Expect When, A Parents Guide

The purpose of this guide is to help you as a parent/carer find out more about how your child is learning and developing during their first five years, in relation to the EYFS. Children develop more rapidly during the first five years of their...

Read more

My Baby's Brain

My Baby's Brain





...

Read more

Early Years Pupil Premium

Early Years Pupil Premium (parents)

What is the early years pupil premium?

Early years pupil premium is an additional amount of funding that...

Read more

Parent Information: helplines, useful links and Preschool Learning Alliance policies

Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline

...

Read more

Breast Feeding Support

Breastfeeding Welcome – UNICEF Baby...

Read more

Emergancy Mental Health

Hertfordshire NightLight Mental Health Crisis Service

Friday to Monday

Hertfordshire NightLight is an out of hour's crisis service providing a safe and welcoming space for people who are feeling distressed and experiencing a crisis...

Read more

Healthy Children's Centre Programme

...
Read more

Pre-schools, Day Nurseries and Schools in our area

Pre-schools

Pre-Schools provide care and early education for children from 2+ years until they enter school reception

  • offer sessions of up to four hours

  • organised and run by private, charity or voluntary organisations
  • pre-schools provide an ideal opportunity for children to mix with other children before starting school.

Day Nurseries

Day Nurseries provide care and early education for children from 3 months until they enter school reception.

  • open to suit an average working day
  • will always be someone to look after your child
  • offer flexibility of full or part-time places, child will mix with children of a similar age

pdf icon Pre-schools and Day Nurseries

Schools

Nursery Schools and Nursery Classes. Nursery schools provide care and early education for children from the term after their third birthday until they enter school reception.

  • open during school hours
  • children normally attend for morning or afternoon sessions.
  • Children have an opportunity to mix with their peers

pdf icon Schools and nurseries

Baby and Toddler Groups in our area

Free childcare for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

Free childcare for two year olds

A number of children may be eligible for 2 year old funding for free places at Pre-school or Day Nursery. Childhood Support Services would like to promote the take up of free early education for two year olds. You can drop-in to any of the Hitchin and Rural Children Centres and we would be happy to support you in your application. You can check if you can receive funding by going onto the eligibility checker. Try the link below.

The link to use is www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/parents 

 

Family Services Commissioning (FSC) has created a new contact email address for parents who have queries regarding their free early education and childcare entitlement. Their new email is childcare@hertfordshire.gov.uk

Two year old free early education – myth busting

If an eligible families circumstances change, they may no longer be entitled to two year old funding 

Myth - If a family is eligible when they apply, they remain eligible regardless of any change in circumstances

 

Settings are allowed to charge parents ‘up front’ and then refund them when they are paid by the local authority

Myth – There should be no charge at all to parents who are only accessing the free entitlement

 

Settings can charge for extra activities such as ballet or French

 

Fact – Settings can charge for any additional activities they offer BUT families should not have to take up the additional activity as a condition of having a place

Any provider can offer free places for two year olds

 

Myth – Providers must have a good or outstanding Ofsted grade in order to offer 2 year old places

Families are entitled to a free two year old place if the parent is in receipt of disability living allowance

Myth – Families are entitled to a free 2 year old place if the CHILD is in receipt of disability living allowance

 

An eligible reference number expires after a certain period of time

Myth – A reference number is valid from when you apply until the term after your child’s third birthday

A child has to attend a setting for 15 hours a week



 

Myth – the family should be offered 15 hours a week but can take less should they choose to

 

A setting will be able to tell a family if they are eligible

 

Myth – Families must make an application which will then initiate an eligibility check

 

A child cannot start to access their entitlement after headcount week

Myth – A child can start at any point in the term as long as they are in the correct age range

Parents cannot access a place for their 2 year old in a different local authority

Myth – If a family are eligible they should be able to access the free entitlement wherever they choose

Parents cannot change setting mid term





 

Myth – A parent can move their child to another setting mid-term.  The original setting and the new one will need to record this in adjustment week. NB the parent will need to be aware of the settings notice policy

If a child is entitled to two year old funding they will automatically qualify for early years pupil premium (EYPP)

Myth – Many children who are eligible for 2 year old funding are eligible for EYPP but there are some criteria that are different

 

 

Free early education and childcare for three and four year olds

All three and four year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early education for 38 weeks of the year. This applies until they reach compulsory school age (the term following their fifth birthday). Free early education places are available at a range of early years settings including nursery schools and classes, day nurseries, play groups, pre-schools and childminders.

When can I get a free childcare place?

A child born in the period 

Will become eligible for a free place

1 April to 31 August

the start of term beginning on or following 1 September after the child's third birthday

1 September to 31 December

the start of term beginning on or following 1 January after the child's third birthday

1 January to 31 March

the start of term beginning on or following 1 April after the child's third birthday 

 

The 15 hours free early education entitlement can be taken flexibly, at up to two providers within the following limits:

  • the full 15 hours have to be taken over at least two days per week and a maximum of five days per week

  • a minimum of two and a half hours can be taken in one day

  • a maximum of ten hours can be taken in one day

For example, your child could have nine hours at a nursery class and six hours with a pre-school, day nursery, childminder or independent school over the course of two days or more, if both settings agree.

You can find providers offering free places by using the childcare directory. You can also check the Ofsted website for any inspection results.

 If you would like to apply for a school nursery place, you can find out more on HertsDirect nursery admissions pages.

You can drop-in to any of the Hitchin and Rural Children Centres and we would be happy to support you in your application.

SEND ( Special Educational Needs and Disability) - Local Offer

SEND - Local Offer

Changes in attitudes, law and practice over the last couple of decades has meant that most young children with special educational needs and disabilities now start their education in mainstream provision.  However, the system for identifying and meeting children’s needs has not always been effective, and some parents have found it difficult to secure suitable provision for their children.

Local authorities must ensure that all funded early years providers in the maintained, private, voluntary and independent sectors, are aware of the requirement on them to have regard to the SEND Code of Practice (2014), and to meet the needs of children with SEN and disabilities.  When securing funded early education for two, three and four-year-olds, local authorities should promote equality and inclusion for children with disabilities or SEN.  This includes removing barriers that prevent children accessing early education, and working with parents to give each child support to fulfil their potential. 

Local authorities should meet these duties alongside other legislative childcare duties to secure information, advice and training, and provide sufficient childcare provision.

Please use the link to the Hertfordshire County Council Directory and click on the SEND Local Offer button where you will be able to view and search for more information.

What to Expect When, A Parents Guide

What to Expect When, A Parents Guide

The purpose of this guide is to help you as a parent/carer find out more about how your child is learning and developing during their first five years, in relation to the EYFS. Children develop more rapidly during the first five years of their lives than at any other time. This booklet has been written to help you as a parent know what to expect during these vitally important years by focusing on the seven areas of learning and development which are covered in the EYFS.

pdf icon What to Expect, a parent's guide.

My Baby's Brain

My Baby's Brain





We already know that parents are the most important things in children’s lives, but recently we have discovered something even more amazing... we have discovered that how a parent behaves around their baby in the first three years of the baby’s life has a significant impact on how their baby’s brain develops. This is the foundation of how the brain will work as the child grows up and becomes an adult, so if a baby’s brain develops healthily they are more likely to be happy and successful as older children and adults.

Childhood Support Services (CSS) has produced a new My Baby’s Brain film that shows the five to thrive in action and the importance this has in giving children the best start in life. There are two versions of the film, one audio and one with text; you can find the films on the http://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/services/edlearn/css/mbb

Early Years Pupil Premium

Early Years Pupil Premium (parents)

What is the early years pupil premium?

Early years pupil premium is an additional amount of funding that pre-schools, nurseries, schools and childminders will be able to claim to support the development and learning of eligible three and four year old children.

What benefit will it be to my child?

The pre-school, nursery, school or childminder that your child attends will receive an additional amount of funding to support your child’s development. They will work with you to decide what they should spend this funding on. It may be training for the staff to help them to support your child better or they may buy some resources to assist your child’s learning.

Who is eligible for the funding?

Children will attract early years pupil premium if their families are in receipt of one of the following benefits.

  • Income support
  • Job Seekers’ Allowance (Income-based)
  • Employment & Support Allowance (Income-related)
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of the State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit based on an annual gross income of no more than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit run-on

How do I find out if my child is eligible for early years pupil premium?

Every term you will have to sign a parent declaration form at your child’s setting. The parent declaration has a section that asks for your surname, date of birth and national insurance number. These details are needed to check to see if your child is eligible for early years pupil premium.

I am not the child’s parent but I am their main carer. Are they eligible?

The following groups of children are automatically eligible:

  •  children who are looked after by the local authority
  •     children who have left care through a special guardianship, adoption or residence order.

If the child you look after falls into one of the above categories there is no need for an eligibility check to be performed and you will not need to complete the early years pupil premium section of the parent declaration form. You just need to let the setting know about your child’s circumstances.

My child is adopted, are they eligible?

Yes. There is no need for an eligibility check to be performed and you will not need to complete the early years pupil premium section of the parent declaration form. You just need to let the setting know about your child’s circumstances.

For further information please speak with your child’s setting and they will talk you through the process to claim this additional funding and explain in more detail how the funding can support your child or check here.

Parent Information: helplines, useful links and Preschool Learning Alliance policies

Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline

hertfordshire_domestic_violence_helpline.jpg

The Hertfordshire domestic abuse helpline is a confidential, free-to-caller signposting service for anyone affected by domestic violence or domestic abuse.

Opening hours:

Monday to Friday - 9am to 9pm

Saturday and Sunday - 9am to 4pm

Email: hertsdvhelpline@hotmail.co.uk

Telephone number is 08 088 088 088.

Website www.hertsdomesticabusehelpline.org

Family Lives Helpline

Family Lives offers a confidential and free* helpline service (previously known as Parentline). Please call on 0808 800 2222 for information, advice, guidance and support on any aspect of parenting and family life, including bullying.

Their helpline service is open 9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday.  

Christmas opening times are :

  • Closed 25,26 & 27 Dec 
  • Closed 1 & 2 Jan 
  • Normal weekend hours on Christmas Eve and New Year Eve 

Website: www.familylives.org.uk

 

CGL: Change, Grow Live

A social care and health charity that supports and enables people to change their lives for the better and achieve positive and life-affirming goals.

Their service users are adults, young people and families whose lives are affected by substance misuse, homelessness, poverty, unemployment, domestic abuse, mental health issues and offending.

Click link to find out more: www.changegrowlive.org/

Useful Links

Support for Parents and Carers

  • www.postnatalillness.co.uk Hertfordshire post natal illness offers support and advice to you or your partner.
  • www.bliss.org.uk Bliss is the special care baby charity which provides vital support and care to premature and sick babies across the UK.

Financial Advice

Policies

Below you will find information on our key policies and procedures. Copies of the full Hitchin and Rural Children's Centre Group Policies and Procedures are available on request from any of our Children's Centres.

Safeguarding Children Policy and Information

pdf icon Safeguarding Policy

pdf icon Safeguarding Information

pdf icon E-Safety Information

pdf icon E-Safety Procedure

pdf icon Record Keeping and Information Sharing Policy

pdf icon Promoting Inclusion and Equality and Valuing Diversity Policy

pdf icon Promoting Inclusion and Equality and Valuing Diversity Information

pdf icon Complaints Procedure

pdf icon Charging Policy

Breast Feeding Support

Breastfeeding Welcome – UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative

Breastfeeding is welcome at all our Centres. 

We completely support UNICEF’s newly launched Call to Action to support breastfeeding, which urges the UK and other countries to implement four key steps to create a supportive, enabling environment for women who want to breastfeed.

Please watch this video here.

 

 

 

More Resources

More information and videos clips from UNICEF BFI for breastfeeding support at https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/baby-friendly-resources/advocacy/support-for-parents/

and https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/baby-friendly-resources/video

and https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/baby-friendly-resources/

Useful advice and information from the Breatfeeding Network at https://www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/

Emergancy Mental Health

Hertfordshire NightLight Mental Health Crisis Service

Friday to Monday

Hertfordshire NightLight is an out of hour's crisis service providing a safe and welcoming space for people who are feeling distressed and experiencing a crisis. Turning Point and Hertfordshire Mind work together in partnership to provide this service.

What they do

Their centres provide a safe, homely and welcoming space for people in Hertfordshire who are feeling distressed and experiencing a crisis. They will create a warm, welcoming and homely environment which is somewhere for you  to relax and feel safe, where you can use the facilities and know that skilled and experienced staff are on hand to listen to you and offer support and advice if needed.

They are open out of hours on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights from 6pm-2am, every week of the year.

They have 4 bases around the county and will do their best to ensure that you can access the one that is nearest to you. The centres are based in:

  •       Watford
  •       Hemel Hempstead (2 beds)
  •       Stevenage (2 bed)
  •       Ware

The centres offer a safe haven for you to use if you are in crisis and want some time out or would like to talk through the issues that you are experiencing with someone who will listen, but not make judgements.

They also provide a telephone helpline. This is open from 8pm-midnight on the same days and is run by a team of Crisis Support Workers and Peer Mentors. 

The Hemel Hempstead and Stevenage bases each have 2 bed spaces that can be used if an overnight stay would help you to resolve your crisis. In some circumstances overnight stays may be discussed and agreed with the Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team. 

Who they support

The service is available to adults living in Hertfordshire who are feeling distressed and experiencing a crisis.

To make a referral, all you need to do is call the service between 6-7pm on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday to talk to a member of the team. You can also be referred to the service by a professional, family, carer or friend. From there, they will explain the process to you so that you understand how the centres work and what they can offer.

You will either be offered a place at one of the centres, or if they do not have enough spaces to offer to everyone who has called, they will arrange a planned call from their telephone helpline later in the evening.

The centres are open until 2am and you can stay for all or part of the evening, whatever you feel that you need. Two of their centres do have emergency overnight accommodation which can be used if this would help to resolve your crisis. This can be discussed with the team.

For those who prefer not to come into the centre but would like someone to talk to they provide a telephone helpline which is open from 8pm-12am on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. This is run by their dedicated team of Crisis Support Workers and Peer Mentors.



Their services include

Each centre is staffed by a team of Crisis Support Workers, Peer Mentors and volunteers who will work alongside you to support you during your stay.

They won’t make assumptions or judgements about what will work best for you, but will provide you with choices about how you would like to use your time in the centre, such as:

  • A safe space in a welcoming environment at one of our centres
  • Time and space to talk with staff and peers
  • 1:1 staff support (practical and emotional)
  • Support with crisis resolution and building coping strategies
  • Advice and information
  • Signposting
  • Onward referrals
  • Emotional support through our telephone helpline between 8pm-midnight

Where appropriate they can support you with accessing other services and resources that may be helpful to you in relation to your longer term support needs. They can work alongside you to look at options if you identify that this would be useful.

Who to contact

Telephone: 01923 256391

E-mail: NightLight@turning-point.co.uk

Website: www.turning-point.co.uk/.../hertfordshire-nightlight.aspx

Where to go

They have venues in Hemel Hempstead, Watford, Stevenage and Ware.

When is it on?

Friday to Monday

Time of day: Evening

Session Information:

6pm to 2am in Watford and Ware

6pm to 9am in Hemel Hempstead and Stevenage

Other details

Referral and availability notes

To make a referral, all you need to do is call the service between 6-7pm on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday to talk to a member of the team. You can also be referred to the service by a professional, family, carer or friend. From there, we will explain the process to you so that you understand how the centres work and what we can offer.

Healthy Children's Centre Programme

Hertfordhsire want people living in the county to have the healthiest lives possible. The Healthy Children's Centre Programme provides a systematic, structured and evidenced approach for all activity provided by the children's centres and thier linked partners.

 For loads of fantasitc activities to get the whole family active in the Children's Centre area visit http://www.activenorthherts.co.uk/

 

Did you know that if you are on certain benefits, or pregnant and under 18, you could qualify to receive vouchers every week to use on things like milk, fresh or frozen vegetables or infant formula milk. Please visit the Healthystart website to find out more.

 

 

 

 

 NHS choices offers all sorts of advice, including how to have a healthy diet whilst pregnant  and how to find a dentist in your area.

 

 

 

Check out the Change for Life website for information about healthy life styles including healthy eating and exercise for all the family.

 

 

 

Start for life is part of the Change for Life campaign, and will give you specific information about healthy feeding choices for your baby.

 

 

 

Beezee Bodies runs loads of programmes designed to help families make small changes which make a big difference!

Events

We now have our new Summer time table starting on Monday 23rd April till Friday 25th May 2018.

pdf icon Summer Timetable.

Pre-school Learning Alliance Outreach Services and Parenting Courses

We can offer early intervention family support that aims to help before problems get too big.  We can offer a range of approaches and resources to improve emotional well-being and social skills. 

Our service is confidential and we will not disclose any information without the individual’s agreement, except when a child may be at risk of harm.

pdf icon Outreach Leaflet

We also regularly run parenting courses like 'The Parenting Puzzle'.

We will be running another parenting course in the New Year.

If you would like to go on our waiting list for the next course or more information contact Becky at Oughton on 07939 100483

Adult Learning

We now have our new adult learning programme for Spring 2018.

pdf icon Adult Learning Leaflet

 

   

pdf icon Volunteering Poster                                                   pdf icon Be Your Own Boss Poster

If you need information on any upcoming courses like first aid, employability or getting back to work please contact our adult learning coordinator Julie Knight on 07532 490399.

 

Under 1's Progamme

We now have our Spring 2018 Under 1's programme.

pdf icon Under 1's Programme

 

Antenatal Programme

Baby Steps:-

NEW DAY- Thursday eveings at Oughton Children's Centre

Antenatal programme for expectant parents and parents odf babies up to 2months.

Covers areas such as baby brain development, childhood illnesses and first aid.

Please call Bluebell on 01462 459043 for more information or to book.

Booking Information

For all sessions priority is given to parents living in the Children's Centre area. We ask for a voluntary contribution towards sessions run by the Children's Centre. Some commissioned services may incur a charge. However, free and subsidised places are available to eligible families living in the Children's centre area. Please contact the Bluebell site for further information on 01462 4569043 or email hitchinandruralgroup@pre-school.org.uk

 

 

Contact us

Please find our maps, useful links and policies;

Bluebell

Children's Centre

Standhill Road,

Hitchin

Herts

SG4 9AF

Tel: 01462 459043

Email: hitchinandruralgroup@pre-school.org.uk

Oughton

Children's Centre

Mattocke Road

Hitchin

Herts

SG5 2NZ

Tel: 01462 436927

Email: hitchinandruralgroup@pre-school.org.uk

York Road

Children's Centre

York Road

Hitchin

Herts

SG5 1XA

Tel: 01462 442438

Email: hitchinandruralgroup@pre-school.or.uk

 

 

Hitchin & Rural Group Main Office
Mattocke Road
Hitchin
SG5 1XA
United Kingdom
Tel: 01462 436927 (Oughton) 459043 (Bluebell) 442438 (York Rd)