Opportunity PLUS/ Play and Chat
A story by PLUS
Opportunity PLUS – a short break for parents/carers of 3-5 year old children with disabilities through the provision of a weekly play session for their child, with appropriate staff support.
Play and Chat – a parent and toddler group for ‘bump – 5’ facilitating opportunities for parents to develop peer support and friendships.
What Opportunity PLUS/ Play and Chat did
Attended team meetings of local agencies to discuss and promote projects, created information leaflets and information sheets to promote project, promoted projects via social media, offering information where necessary.
Attended 6 home visits and created 6 information sheets for Opportunity PLUS, met with 10 new referrals for Play and Chat. Organised 102 play sessions with staff support at PLUS base. Organised 23 swim sessions with staff support at local leisure centre.
Organised 51 parent and toddler sessions at PLUS base including Christmas Party event, liaised with local organisation to provide disability specific class with staff support, liaised with national organisation to arrange visit by sensory bus.
Carers were able to use the break in a way of their choosing. Some carers chose to spend time in family room and read, make phone calls etc while other carers used time to go to supermarket, spend time with other child/children and/or spouse.
What PLUS has learned
Opportunity PLUS and Play and Chat were the first projects in the organisation to work with children under 5 years old. In facilitating Play and Chat we have recognised the vital need for peer support for parents/carers of children under 5 and have recently received funding for a full-time family support worker to help develop the project further and the role of parent volunteers.
As parent/carer involvement in PLUS can start as early as ‘bump’ now, there has been an increase of family involvement in PLUS fundraising and marketing events. A lot of children aged 3-5 years are still undergoing diagnosis and involved with many other professionals. Therefore, there were 69 cancellations where sessions conflicted with appointments.
Seven children left the project to attend school or nursery placements. These families no longer had access to opportunities out with school. Alternative swim sessions were then set up to allow these children continued access to OP sessions. These sessions were well –received by the children who attended and their parents/carers.