Children’s centre guidance: Implementing the Standards
This guidance document looks at each of the children’s centres standards in detail and outlines the assessment process.
Children’s centres (or equivalent early years community settings in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) have an important role to play in improving outcomes for young children and their families, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable groups. They are an excellent source of information and are in an ideal situation to work collaboratively with health providers to support the implementation of the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative standards within their areas.
Many children’s centres have already engaged with local health services to work towards implementing Baby Friendly standards at a basic level. With the introduction of a specific set of standards for children’s centres it is anticipated that they can further expand their role to support breastfeeding and very early years development.
Collaborative working is a major element of Baby Friendly practice and it is anticipated that a joint approach with local health visiting and/or maternity services will continue to be adopted as this will ensure better outcomes for families. Whilst it is possible for a group of children’s centres to apply for Baby Friendly accreditation as a standalone service, we would encourage services to approach the assessment process jointly with the local health visiting service.
The journey towards Baby Friendly accreditation is a significant one. It will involve looking at services provided from the perspective of the families that use them and then implementing changes, with audit and evaluation to check where the standards are being met. Baby Friendly accredited services are expected to provide a universal level of support. If your service is very targeted and services for families are limited, please discuss with the Baby Friendly team in advance of embarking on the assessment process.
The assessment process is in stages, each of which can be assessed so that you have feedback to ensure that you can keep on track and do not waste your time, energy and money. There is flexibility to allow children’s centres to combine stages and to be assessed with health visiting services if that is required.