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to think sure start are wasting public money?

(48 Posts)
ontheedgeofwhatever Fri 12-Oct-12 08:49:19

We recently received a letter from our local children's centre saying they'd made an appointment for a family support worker to come and see us yesterday following the arrival of DS.

We emailed on Monday morning and asked them not to come as we didn't feel the need for a family support worker and we were managing quite well but thanks for the offer.

I came home yesterday to a card through the door saying that they'd come round and found me out.

AIBU to think that they should have listened when we said we didn't want the appointment and that they shouldn't have made the appointment in the first place without finding out whether we'd like one? A letter introducing themselves and inviting us to contact them if we'd like any help or support would surely have been far more economical and actually filtered out the peope like us who were quite happy without their services. Surely it costs quite a bit in terms of public money for two members of staff to perform a home visit?

ontheedgeofwhatever Fri 12-Oct-12 08:54:30

I know it was 2 staff because my neighbour saw them and told me

JemimaPuddle Fri 12-Oct-12 08:58:52

My local sure start centre usually pop round bit only to tell you what is available at the centre - baby groups etc. Not actually for people who are struggling / need support. Maybe this is what they were intending to do?

pjmama Fri 12-Oct-12 09:00:09

Maybe they were coming to introduce themselves and talk about the services they offer? The second person may have been a trainee shadowing.

atacareercrossroads Fri 12-Oct-12 09:00:57

I've never had this with either of my dcs confused

But yes, that is a waste of resources, Yanbu

BettyandDon Fri 12-Oct-12 09:04:37

I'm amazed at this. I didn't even get a MW visit after the birth, not even a HV. I had to arrange to visit them myself at my own expense.

EasilyBored Fri 12-Oct-12 09:09:04

My local children'c centre and HV were very pro-active in coming to see me and calling me about baby groups etc, because DS was my first I think, and it helps them to identify people who are starting to struggle a bit. I don't know if I would have gone to many groups in the early days, without a bit of encouragement from the HV etc. And it really helped me. IF they had just sent a letter, I don't know if I would have just ignored it in the midst of trying to learn how to look after a baby? I don't think it's a waste of resources at all, they're just doing what they are meant to be doing.

And I imagine it ha to be two people making the visit, because of lone working policies?

Moominsarescary Fri 12-Oct-12 09:10:33

They do this in our area, I think it's a good thing. I probably wouldn't have thought of going other wise and ds3 really enjoys it there. You wouldn't have been the only person they visited so hardly a waste of resources. It's part of their job to get people interested. If noone goes to the centre it will close.

Lottapianos Fri 12-Oct-12 09:11:37

'And I imagine it ha to be two people making the visit, because of lone working policies?'


I work in Children's Centres and I wish we had the resources to offer this service to every new parent. I think it's a great idea - a face to face visit would be much more meaningful than just a leaflet shoved through your door. Sure Start offer universal services so they want to make contact with every single parent in their area. The parents who need this kind of support the most are often the parents who are least likely to take it up, unless they can be convinced of the benefits.

Boggler Fri 12-Oct-12 09:14:00

I think a lot has to do with yor postcode and targeting support to those in certain areas. I recently had dd and HV told me that if I'd lived about 1/2 a mile away I would have qualified for enhanced HV oa the sure start. This would have meant that dd would heave been visited more often and would have been offered a free early start nursery place from age 2 - I was gutted about not getting that. If I were you I'd take the good bits and decline all the extra bits you dont fancy.

DinosaurSchool Fri 12-Oct-12 09:14:34

Why two if midwives and health visitors visit alone?

FantasticDay Fri 12-Oct-12 09:16:22

My local Surestart Centre do this to let you know what services are available. I thought it was useful - I didn't know what I didn't know, iyswim. I don't think I was struggling, but I -and friends - did benefit enormously from the Breastfeeding cafe, playgroups, baby massage, paediatric first aid training, child friendly healthy cooking etc. Also, I know that the Surestart centre manager knocked on loads of doors to get dads involved at a tremendously successful monthly dads and tots event (over 100 dads attend). They probably wouldn't have thought of going if they hadn't been talked through it, but all the dads I know think it's been brilliant. Don't begrudge any of my tax money going to Surestart.

BridgetBidet Fri 12-Oct-12 09:18:02

It's not necessarily a case of them being a service the parent decides if they 'want' or not is it? If the family support worker visit is part of the authorities strategy for checking children are in suitable homes where they're not a risk then we all just have to just grin and bear it because putting up with an irritating visit is a small price to pay for them picking up households where children are at risk isn't it?

PurplePidjin Fri 12-Oct-12 09:21:57

Perhaps they're also looking for volunteers to run groups?

FredFredGeorge Fri 12-Oct-12 09:25:05

What evidence do you have it's a waste of resources - before making the appointment they have no knowledge of if you're a parent who will need or want the service and the early information could save masses of money and pain for the family. Or it could simply save a small amount, or it could simply be a wasted trip - it's not actually that expensive unless the vast majority got no value from it.

Are you anti-sure start centres - why don't you want to hear about them?

Lottapianos Fri 12-Oct-12 09:26:29

Sure Start isn't just for families are struggling. All parents need help with something at some point - nobody knows everything and nobody sails through life without any problems. The centres are generally full of lovely friendly helpful people - no one will tell you off or make you feel you are doing anything wrong. And as BridgetBidet says, there is also a safeguarding aspect to their work - they need to identify families who are at risk as early as possible so the appropriate services can be put in place.

Rockchick1984 Fri 12-Oct-12 09:45:16

My local Surestart used to offer these, however they stopped (to try and save some money). New attendance decreased dramatically at the under 1's groups, and when they decided to actually speak to parents using the centre, a lot said they didn't know it was there, and even if they did they wouldn't necessarily have had the confidence to simply start going. They are now looking into starting it up again.

YABU - if it's a service that successfully helps 50% of the parents they visit, I think it's worth doing.

ontheedgeofwhatever Fri 12-Oct-12 15:04:07

Fair enough. I still think its a waste of money though especially as we'd specifically asked them not to come.

I am not anti sure start I am sure they're great for some people so I'd rather they used their resources to work with them and not me. Reading this thread it appears they do some things I wasn't aware of but the tone of their letter was onlly that they wanted to help with problems we may be encountering.

They certainly do not (or did not used to at least) provide a universal service. When I had DD I phoned and ASKED them for help as I was struggling and was told I lived in the wrong post code area to qualify. Now I live five minutes walk down the road they're suddenly throwing resources at me I desperately needed access to 5 years ago but really don't need now

As for safe guarding - its yet more nanny stateism. We let in the MW and the health visitor now we're expected to let in sure start workers - are we not to be trusted in our own homes?

ReallyTired Fri 12-Oct-12 15:10:00

It seems a little over kill to have a family support worker visit you if you have been visited by a health visitor, midwife and none of your children are on the child protection registers.

I think that sure start need to offer a visit to all the families in the area otherwise it will become a stigmatised service. However it seems incredibly rude to turn up uninvited.

Lottapianos Fri 12-Oct-12 15:10:13

'They certainly do not (or did not used to at least) provide a universal service'

Sorry, what I meant by 'universal' was that their services are open to all families within their area, not just those who are identified as being in need. It sounds like your situation was down to a 'postcode lottery', which is really unfair and frustrating. I don't blame you for feeling it's all come too late, but they really are a wonderful resource and it's not too late to benefit from what they can offer you.

CailinDana Fri 12-Oct-12 16:12:58

I'm a bit ambivalent about Surestart. In principle it's a great service, and I think the idea behind it is great. My local centre is lovely - new, shiny, stocked with great toys, has a midwife on staff so you can have your antenatal appointments there and so avoid a trip to the hospital/GP, and runs some good groups. But their attitude is seriously off. One of my friends overheard a worker she knows well expressing annoyance that she had signed up for one of the groups as she was not one of the "target families." My friend was crying she was so upset about it. She has done a lot of volunteering for Surestart and has attended groups/stay and play etc since her youngest was born 4 years ago, so to hear that she's not welcome on a course because she doesn't fit their (very very stereotyped and nasty) criteria is really disappointing. She intends not to go there again.

They're endlessly complaining that local families won't take up their services, yet they do things like suddenly changing the breastfeeding group from a Wednesday to a Monday, with no warning, so that half the group, who now know each other and enjoy the session, can no longer attend. They are aware of the very popular toddler group that I help to run and yet set up activities that clash with it, which means that our parents can't go to them. They ran a gardening course, then let the gorgeous garden that the parents had slaved over to go to wrack and ruin, despite promising to keep it going. The guy who ran the course has now said he won't run it again, he is so pissed off, which means parents lose out. As ontheedge said, they are very postcode-oriented which means you are not allowed to bring friends from outside the area to sessions, and even within the postcode catchment if you don't fit their nasty "you is a poor person" criteria they're not interested in you.

Surestart should either be a supportive friendly organisation for everyone in the community, or it should hold its hands up and say it's just an extension of social services. It can't be both.

crackcrackcrak Fri 12-Oct-12 16:17:18

Maybe they didn't get the email. I would have phoned.
I don't know what I think. Yanbu for tithing it down but I don't think it's wasteful. The next mum they visit might really need them.

WelshMaenad Fri 12-Oct-12 16:19:32

I think I'd have found that really pushy and invasive TBH. YANBU.

Lottapianos Fri 12-Oct-12 16:22:59

CailinDana, that's a real shame that you have had some rubbish experiences with your local centre. I don't blame your friend for being upset about the 'targeted families' comment and the staff member should not have been so unprofessional as to be complaining about it like that. However, it's not entirely the fault of the staff - the government keep threatening to remove or severely cut funding for universal services so some services which were universal have now been relabelled as 'targeted'. It sucks. Blame the Tories (as ever) sad

JakeBullet Fri 12-Oct-12 16:24:03

It is standard in some areas for a quick one off visit to say hello and let you know about their services. Chances are they did not get your email in time (the people visiting) and so called as part of their rounds. It's not standard in every area and certainly not about checking up in you.

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