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For parents of children aged 0-5 years old

Parents’ pages SUMMER 2014


The Big Read for small children Ideas to encourage a love of reading

Have you got what it takes?

Health Check

What’s the story?

Support for new parents

Including dental tips from the Tooth Fairy

Inspiring reading ideas for over 5s

Register with your local children’s centre today!

t: 0300 200 1004

Fostering case study, plus information on how you can make a difference



Find out more Would you like a Foodshare Bed at your child’s school? To find out more visit


Parents’ Pages Summer 2014

t: 0300 200 1004

What is foodshare? The local school - St Peter’s RC Primary

As part of the Healthy Schools programme, St Peter’s was already running a Gardening Club. To become part of the Foodshare project they needed to grow more, so this summer they started two new Foodshare Beds so they could grow vegetables for a local charity. Local company Unilever, based nearby, donated and helped build two raised beds and to plant about 20 varieties of vegetables. It’s the children at St Peter’s who have the job of looking after the vegetables and harvesting them. As the project grows and the school and local community start to understand the value of the project, their aim is to increase the number of Foodshare Beds.

The local Charity - Pitstop Day Centre in Leatherhead.

The Pitstop Day Centre is a daytime drop-in centre for homeless, unemployed and socially isolated people in and around Leatherhead. They prepare meals, refreshments and snacks, as well as offering help for homeless or disadvantaged people. St Peter’s decided to help this charity as it was in their local community. Not only will the charity save money on their food bill, but it will also help the environment by cutting down on food miles.

Starting the Foodshare Project

As well as the Foodshare Beds, St Peter’s set up a Foodshare ‘Donation Station’ for parents who have their own allotment or grow their own, so they could donate any excess fruit or vegetables. Parents can also donate tinned food and other items, a list of what is needed was sent out in a newletter.

Donation Station Delivery Volunteers

Parents and grandparents can volunteer to deliver tinned foods and fresh produce placed in the ‘Donation Station’. Deliveries can take place on a daily or twice weekly basis depending on the amount collected. They are also welcome to help look after the vegetable beds with their children and grandchildren.

Parents’ Pages Summer 2014


The Foodshare ‘Growing to Give’ project for schools, works with the Royal Horticultural Society and other organisations, to help teach children the importance of growing and sharing in the local community.

Feature e:




Have you got what it takes?

Parents’ Pages Summer 2014



Foster carers Karen and James, share their experiences.


How we started

The turning point for me was watching two programmes on television within a couple of weeks that tackled the whole care system and how stretched they were trying to provide for and protect children. I didn’t really know where to start so I researched it on the internet. There are lots of fostering agencies out there but I suppose I felt more comfortable with the local authority. I phoned Surrey County Council’s fostering number and spoke to them about what we needed to do. They suggested that my husband and I attend an open evening where we could find out more and any concerns or questions could be answered.

The open evening

It was at this open evening that my husband started looking at it in a different way. We spoke to foster carers, social workers and there was even someone there who had been a child in care. The process was briefly explained to us and an introductory meeting was arranged so that we could have a one to one with a social worker.

How it works for us

At first we were unsure how this would affect our boys, who were aged 5 and 8 at the start of all this. As long as we ensured that they were not left out, we had no real issues with them accepting and helping with this new chapter in our lives. In fact, I don’t think I would be exaggerating if I said that they have enjoyed being big brothers. The whole process took nine months and at times it felt like nothing was happening but all the checks necessary to ensure that a new foster carer is right for the role need to happen. We had Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS. previously CRB) checks, health and safety reports, medical histories and even a report on our pet dog, Flossie. I think we are lucky in that both my husband and I work shift work or from home so that someone is always home and we can provide 24 hour care for a child. There are stories that some foster carers have to give up work to be able to do this. We never had to worry about that. Start up costs included redecorating and furnishing the spare room (all ages and both sexes had to be catered for, which is harder than it seems). The allowance we receive is plenty to provide the children with all that they need.

If there was one bit of advice that I could give to anyone considering becoming a foster carer is to attend an information evening

t: 0300 200 1004

y sister was the first one to look into being a foster carer. As a family we had spoken about how hard it would be to allow another child to enter your family and the difficulties they might have. My husband was quite dubious about me looking into it, I suppose he was just happy and settled with the way we were.


In the two and a half years since we were approved we have had four placements, the longest being eighteen months. They have all had different needs and had varying effects on our family. I suppose you just learn to adapt and keep routines going as best as you can. The biggest issue we have, is arranging everything around the contact that the child has with their parents. This, understandably, has to happen and you just move things around. Each time a placement comes to an end it is hard. You hope that you have done your best to prepare the child for the next step, whether it is adoption or a return to their family. You have to prepare the child but one of the biggest problems that faces the whole care system is the length of time the court process takes. All you can do is keep caring for them and be ready for when it happens. As a foster carer you are sent on many training courses that help you improve the way that you deal with all the situations that arise in this challenging role.

Highs and lows

The child comes to you upset and confused. The first few weeks are hard and tiring as you try to get them settled and into some kind of routine. Each placement is different so no set pattern exists. There comes a time when you think that you cannot cope anymore but luckily we have each other and our supervising social worker, who is fantastic at listening to us. Once you get beyond this point things settle down quite quickly.

Forever family

We recently went to see one of our children in her new ‘forever’ family. She was adopted two months ago and it is fantastic to see her settled and flourishing. It makes us proud that we were a part of her life and hope that she has a great future. >

Parents’ Pages Summer 2014


Have you got what it takes?


I’ve just moved into Surrey and don’t have any family or friends nearby. I’d like to know if there is anywhere I can do a baby massage class with my colicky six week old daughter or when I should put my 20 month old son’s name down for a free childcare place. We want to start by saying welcome to Surrey! If you have internet access, why not take a look at our Surrey Family Information Service web pages at As well as explaining what we can offer, it’s got oodles of information for parents of 0-19 year olds (up to 25 years old for young people with a special educational need or disability). If you don’t have internet access, drop in to your local library where they’ll let you log on to a computer for free. You could combine this with one of their rhymetimes. If you gave birth to your baby in Surrey then your baby’s red medical book should include a Sure Start Children’s Centres in Surrey leaflet, it’s the one with the turquoise illustration on the cover. This leaflet explains what children’s centres in Surrey can offer. On the back page of this leaflet you’ll find a New Parent Form. Fill this in to register and let them know you’re in their area and either drop it off at your nearest children’s centre or hand it to your health visitor. If you don’t have this leaflet, you’ll find an online version of the new parent form at or if you email or telephone us, we can post it out to you (see our contact details on the bottom right of this page). Once you’re registered with a children’s centre in Surrey, they’ll let you know about all the activities and sessions they run at their children’s centre. Each children’s centre

is different and so what they offer differs but they all provide support to parents of children under five. This could include baby massage, and if they don’t offer it, they probably know the nearest place that does. You can also look for baby massage in our directory of services for families at Depending on whether or not you meet the eligibility criteria, you may be able to get up to 15 hours of Free Early Education for Two year olds (FEET) for your son, when he turns two. Find out more about this at, by ringing the FEET team on 0300 200 1004 or by talking to someone at your local children’s centre. If you don’t meet the criteria for FEET, your son will still be able to get a free early education place for up to 15 hours a week, the term after he turns three. It’s never too early to start finding out about the different types of childcare and what they offer and our page is packed full of links and tips. It’s always worth visiting a childcare provider before you make your final decision and to find details of Ofsted registered childminders, pre-schools and nurseries near to you look no further than

We’re here for you If you have any other questions, just contact us:

call 0300 200 1004 email or visit

Parents’ Pages Summer 2014


t: 0300 200 1004


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