Become a Parent Champion
Who are Parent Champions?
Parent Champions are heroes who don’t need to wear capes or their underwear on the outside to make a difference. They help the parents around them get the support they need to improve their family life and their children’s outcomes.
For many families, bringing up children can be like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. They use different combinations of support from family and friends, from nurseries or childminders and from other early years services like toddler groups or stay and play sessions. Some parents struggle to find out about these services and the help that is available to them. Without knowing about childcare and early years services, parents can often end up feeling very lost and their children end up missing out on activities that are beneficial for their development. It’s much harder to piece together a jigsaw puzzle when you don’t know where all the pieces are.
The Parent Champions programme is based on the idea that parents are the best people to support other parents to find out about childcare and early years services. Parent Champions are parent volunteers who give a few hours a week to talk to other parents about the local services available to them. By sharing their own experiences of using a local service for their children, Parent Champions can build trust with other parents, put to ease any worries parents may have and encourage parents to make the best of the help available to them and their children. Parent Champions help parents find the jigsaw pieces they need to complete the picture.
What are the benefits for families?
- Raises parents’ awareness of childcare and local family services, improving their children’s outcomes
- Increases access to free early education for two, three and four year olds
- Brings families into children’s centres and other community settings
- Involves families in the development of local services offered to them
- Supports minority groups and their engagement with services
What are the benefits of being a Parent Champion?
- Builds your confidence and transferable skills
- Provides access to training and employment
- Provides opportunities for you to give back to your community
- Make close friends working within a team of like-minded people
What do I do as a Parent Champion?
Parent Champions are supported by a local authority, children’s centre, school or local community organisation. Some Parent Champions fit in their volunteering alongside work or study. Others haven’t worked for a while and want to gain experience. Some Parent Champions have previously come from a professional background and are taking a career break or are interested in a career in childcare. Anyone with experience of being a parent can be a Parent Champion.
As a Parent Champion you will meet and talk with other parents about the benefits of childcare or other services that are available in your area. You are not expected to know everything about the local services. After some training, you will be able to direct parents to the organisations that could best help them, like a local children’s centre or a Family Information Service. By connecting parents with the local services that can help, you will be making a vital contribution to the lives of families you come across and to your wider community.
Here are some things you can expect to do as a Parent Champion:
What support do I get as a Parent Champion?
If the idea of volunteering or talking to parents you don’t know makes you feel nervous, don’t worry, we know how it feels! Volunteering, like anything new, can sometimes be a little scary, especially if you haven’t tried this type of thing before. Some people find it very easy to go up to someone they don’t know and start up a conversation, but for others it can be challenging. Try not to get put off if it doesn’t come naturally to you at first –it didn’t come naturally at first to many of our Parent Champions. Your confidence will grow over time and once you have had some training and a few conversations with parents, you will start to feel more comfortable about speaking to people you haven’t met before.
Many Parent Champions like to work in pairs which can help to build your confidence as you support each other. You can share and draw on each other’s strengths and skills. Aside from the support of your fellow Parent Champions, you will get support from your Project Coordinator and from the programmes team at Family and Childcare Trust. This support can include:
Hear from Parent Champions
"I volunteered to be a parent champion because I know first-hand how wonderful but equally challenging and isolating being a parent can be. The children’s centres are so inclusive and provide many services and a lot of support. I want to help to make sure that all parents and carers are aware of how to access what is available to them in their local area."
"I have gained so much from volunteering, confidence, knowledge and I've made amazing friends in the process too. However, I would just like to say what an amazing organisation you are, not enough is said about all you do for children and their families."
Parent Champion Coordinator
"Of the nine Parent Champions who were recruited, five have gone on to paid jobs. … I have nine new parents waiting to start the Parent Champions induction this month."
"As I've been out of the workplace for years now I needed to gain some confidence again and have a stepping stone back to work. This is helping me with that. I like talking to other parents and enjoy helping out at the group I go to."
"Since joining the Parent Champion project nine months ago I have made some brilliant friends, my confidence has grown so much. I am now looking for employment and very interested in becoming a childminder."
"It has helped me gain my life back and realise I am a person as well as a mum. It helped with my relationship with my daughter."
"It is nice to feel like I am giving something back to my community and hopefully help to make a positive impact to families in my local area. Personally it has helped me with my confidence and with my decision to return to study."
Parent Champion Coordinator
"The scheme is really taking off. At one event we attended, the Mayor was there and we took the opportunity to tell her about the scheme and she met a Parent Champion."
"The first week was very hard, since it was new, and I was not fluent in English, but by the second week I felt more comfortable, and then it became very easy."