Collaboration with Children in Scotland Ltd, City of Edinburgh Council, Midlothian Sure Start and Parenting Across Scotland.
Open kindergartens are an innovative model of family support developed in Sweden and replicated throughout the Nordic countries. They are professionally staffed drop-in sessions where parents and carers come along with their children. Parents and carers are given unobtrusive and non-judgemental assistance as well as peer support and contact. Groups meet regularly in early years centres staffed by highly qualified early years workers. The key objectives are to reduce social isolation among parents of young children, support effective parenting, and, critically, contribute to optimising child wellbeing in health, learning and development. At Stage One The University of Stirling's Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection conducted a feasibility study, consulting with a wide range of local parents and carers, and professionals, about the design of a new service. The research report concluded that Open Kindergartens could: meet parents’ support and learning needs more effectively; provide parents with critical peer support; upskill the early years workforce, particularly in relation to parental engagement; represents a sustainable and financially viable model, is readily capable of being upscaled and, most importantly it can contribute to achieving better and more equitable outcomes for children.
In the second stage, the approach will be tested in at least 2 contrasting early years setting, incorporating twice weekly parent and baby/child sessions. This will supported by a capacity building programme for staff.
This pilot will use improvement methodology. A cycle of Plan, Do, Test and Act will be employed in the pilot stage.
Participants will be offered opportunities to review and shape the rolling out of the flexible programme offered by Open Kindergarten. The evaluation will take a collaborative approach, working with parent/carer participants from Stage 1 on evaluation design, analysis and dissemination of findings. This will entail three group meetings with carers/parents to explore their perceptions of the evaluation as it rolls out.
The evaluation will deploy a mixed method action research approach to explore the effectiveness, responsiveness, equity and accessibility of the project intervention, and to consider barriers and enablers to the roll out of the implementation. Mixed methods will be used to address these issues. Standardised measures of wellbeing, parenting stress, and parenting confidence will be used with parents as a baseline and as an exit measure. Interviews will be conducted with parents who have used the open kindergarten, exploring their experience of the model, and their perceptions of its impact. In addition, interviews will be conducted with practitioners and stakeholders to establish perceptions of the service from professionals who might refer to the open kindergarten or might take referrals from it. Observations of sessions in progress will provide a description of service features. Service data (on numbers and demographics of families) and routinely collected service satisfaction data will be used to explore questions of acceptability, equity and responsiveness.