June 22, 2024

South West News

South West News from Gloucestershire to Cornwall

Council’s Family Information Service recognised for its commitment to helping families in Cornwall

A team at Cornwall Council has received a national quality assurance award for its commitment to providing the best information, advice and assistance (IAA) to mums, dads, carers and parents-to-be.

Cornwall Family Information Service (FIS) received a ‘Families First Quality Award’ after assessors deemed it complied with strict standards set by national charity Coram Family and Childcare.

Cornwall Family Information Service

The accreditation also acknowledges the high level of support offered to families of children with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities).

It comes following a comprehensive assessment process that included interviews with managers, staff, parents and carers as well as in-depth reviews of key plans, strategies and communications channels.

Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Cornwall Council, said:

“This accreditation is fantastic news for the council’s Together for Families service and testament to the hard work and dedication of our brilliant Family Information Service team.

“It makes me incredibly proud that our staff continue to be recognised for the top-quality services they provide, all of which make a vital contribution towards making Cornwall a brilliant place to be a child and grow up, which is one of the council’s top priorities.

“Congratulations to everyone in FIS for doing so much to improve the lives of parents, carers, children and families across our communities.”

Cornwall’s Family Information Service is part of a wider, multi-disciplinary team based in the council’s Early Help Hub supporting swift and easy access to child and family services. The service is available to all families and supports our locality-based ‘Early Help’ offer through family hubs and communities.

Its duty is to provide information, advice and assistance (IAA) and a signposting service to help parents, carers and prospective parents make choices about childcare and other services and activities for young people in their area.

The team offers free, confidential and impartial information about local settings, services and support for children aged 0-19 years (or up to 25 for children with disabilities). This includes funded childcare, related activities and services, and the ‘Local Offer’ for children with SEND.

FIS advisors staff a telephone help line, with advice and information also provided via email, text messages and social media. The team also maintains an online Family Information Service Directory that is constantly updated to make sure all childcare and family services information is accurate.

Assessors said parents and carers they interviewed reported that emails and telephone calls are responded to “very quickly”, and signposting and referrals are followed up “until needs are met, particularly when a family has complex needs”.

The FIS team is “committed to continuous improvement, and to partnership working to extend the reach and impact of the service”, assessors said.

Tiffany Kerr-Knight, Together for Families Parenting Lead and Family Information Service Team Lead, said:

“I am immensely proud of the hard work and commitment put in by every member of the FIS team and they thoroughly deserve this accreditation and recognition.

“We know there is always more that can be done to make our offer and services even better and we are determined to keep doing our very best for families in Cornwall.”

Some of the praise from service users included:

“I did a search online for information about childcare funding, and that is how I found the Family Information Service. I phoned them, and my call was answered very quickly. I have told my friends about the Family Information Service. I recommend them one hundred percent. They are local and know the system.”

“I am a first-time dad, and I wanted to find out more about how to be a good dad. I found the Family Information Service email address on their website. I got a really informative email back in a very short time, with links to journals about dads, and then about groups for dads and when they run. I would be very happy to contact them again.”

“My child is on the autism spectrum and is visually impaired. I have had so much help from the Family Information Service. Initially, I was looking for childcare settings which could support my daughter. More recently, I have used their website to find activities to help with the development of her independence skills. There is so much information there. I found support groups as well, and parenting courses. The website is very easy to use.”

For more information visit the Family Information Service website.

Press release issued on February 20, 2024.