Name of CPP: Midlothian

Name of case study: Parenting and Family Support

Brief outline of case study:

The Midlothian Parenting and Family Support Project brings together public sector partners, voluntary organisations and parents' representatives to develop and help deliver parenting and family support work. The project involves parents in helping to co-produce better outcomes for their children.


This case study primarily demonstrates good practice or progress in addressing the following issues:

Economic recovery




Children's early years


Health inequalities


Other key local issues


A shift to prevention and early intervention




Better use of resources (budgets, staff, buildings, equipment, etc.)


Improved business processes (service planning, staff engagement, performance management, etc.)


Partnership working


Localisation of the SOA / local Community Planning


Community engagement and feedback


Engagement of the voluntary sector


Engagement of the business sector


Improved performance attributable to the SOA approach


More cost effective performance attributable to the SOA approach


Contact details of lead officer:

Anne Rooney
Performance and planning manager, Education and Children's Services, Midlothian Council
0131 271 3741




Name of case study: Parenting and Family Support

SOA outcome/s and National Outcome/s supported by the case study:

National Outcome 04: Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.

National Outcome 05: Our children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed.

Local Outcome LO7: parents and carers across Midlothian have access to a consistent, best practice range of parenting and family support approaches.

Partners involved in case study:

Midlothian Council (Community Learning and Development, Children and Families, Education, Economic Regeneration)
NHS Lothian (Midwifery, Health Visiting, Health Promotion, Child and Adolescent Mental Health)
Voluntary sector (Midlothian Sure Start)
Parents" representative groups.

Description of activity:

In 2009 Midlothian Council (Early Years), Midlothian Sure Start (voluntary organisation), and Midlothian Community Health Partnership (Public Health Nursing) entered into partnership and engaged with key agencies to develop the Midlothian Parenting and Family Support Strategy.

The partnership involves all stakeholders, with particular emphasis on involving parents. Parents are now key partners in the development of parenting and family support work in Midlothian. A Parenting Co-ordinator was appointed and part of the role was to identify and research best practice. 

A parenting and family support steering group was set up. This consists of a range of key partners including representatives from relevant Midlothian Council sections (Community Learning and Development, Children and Families, Education, Economic Regeneration) and from the voluntary sector, parents" representative groups, and NHS Lothian sections (Midwifery, Health Visiting, and Health Promotion). This group oversees the development of parenting and family support work across Midlothian.

A Values and Attitudes seminar was held for senior staff and then frontline staff to address attitudes to working with parents as key stakeholders in supporting their children"s development and to deal with potential barriers across professional boundaries. This exercise was conducted by an international expert, Dr Margy Whalley from the Pengreen International research centre. The session also addressed the benefits of supporting children in the early years and obtained buy in to the need for a co-ordinated approach to parenting and family support work across the local authority area. It led to an official launch by the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland and was opened by one of the parents from the parents network.

Parents were involved from the start. A parents network (known as the Parents Voice) was developed to include individuals and representatives from all relevant services and a wide range of backgrounds. They link with parents across the local authority area using existing structures and have designed and set up local launches to seek the views of the local community. The Parents Voice is integral in all steering group meetings, sub groups and local networks.

The parents network are devising folders of local information for parents, which will be held in local schools and libraries, and parents have volunteered to keep these updated. They have also volunteered their personal numbers on leaflets they have designed and which are available to all parents.

These parents have been willing to assist to break down barriers presented by some professionals in some services. They attended a conference with professionals and helped to challenge many preconceptions.

The parents have been involved at all levels from making podcasts to becoming peer educators/mentors and running support sessions with other parents. Many more of the parents have now expressed a desire to be trained to volunteer / befriend or become peer educators.

One of the parents has set up a support group with teenage mothers which has been extremely successful. The first cohort of teenage mothers (10 attendees) are now recommending the work to their peers and half are going on to further training (3 into access to nursing, 1 into psychology, 1 into dental nursing.)

With funding secured through a successful joint bid to Scottish Government, over 100 multi-agency/disciplinary staff have been trained in the Solihull approach to parenting, ensuring that staff working with children and families across Midlothian are promoting a consistently positive message of support.

Multi agency training has also been delivered on Sleep Scotland, which provides training in behavioural and cognitive techniques to manage sleep problems of children and young people with additional support needs including behavioural problems, and Incredible Years programmes (Basic Programme Ages 3-10 years) which is a research-based, proven effective programme for reducing children's  aggression and behaviour problems and increasing social competence at home and at school. These courses were offered in partnership between Midlothian Sure Start, Midlothian Council (Children and Families) and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. Feedback from participants has been very positive with parents reporting that it has led to very positive outcomes for the family.

Multi agency training is planned in the ESCAPE / Parallel Lines, which is an evidence-based parenting programme which offers a problem-solving approach to behavioral problems by helping parents establish a positive relationship with their teenagers. Parallel Lines is a companion programme for working with young people in conjunction with their parents. Challenging Years programme is a short parenting programme for parents of young people in early adolescence and it examines the changing relationships between parents and their children as they make the transition to secondary school.   

 Play@home has been developed to help parents give their child a healthy start in life.  It consists of three books (baby, toddler and pre-school) and recognises that the first years of a child"s life are influential in establishing good daily exercise habits, promotes the value of parents as role models and strengthens the relationship between parents /child.  This service has been developed with a support worker from Midlothian Sure Start co-located with the Health Visiting team in a local health centre. This work has progressed well and the partners are looking at new and innovative ways in which more joined up working can be achieved.

The project has led to agencies finding new and more inclusive ways of working. For example Community Learning and Development introduced entitlement to accessible taster sessions for parents at local schools at the start of the academic year, so that they can understand what their children are learning about.  They have also, in partnership with parents, introduced new courses for parents which include sessions on child development and supporting children with homework.

Evidence of impact / progress:

  • 34 multi agency staff accredited in Sleep Scotland training to help support parents /carers with sleep problems. This training was evaluated by Sleep Scotland however a follow-up evaluation to measure the impact of their work with families is planned. 
  • 113 multi agency staff trained in Solihull Approach impacting upon an estimated 1000 families across Midlothian. In a pilot evaluation participants measured an average of 73% increase in knowledge and understanding in baby brain development and 93% of participants felt "much more able" to support parents with their children through the Solihull Approach. In a pilot evaluation one Dads" worker describes how this approach has impacted upon his work, "Once I understood about how the brain develops and the impact of negative behaviour (non containing behaviour by the adult) I was able to help contain the dad I was working with and explain about how his behaviour can impact on the emotional development of his child ...it was like a light going on..... his behaviour changed immediately..and stayed changed". (Dads" Worker)
  • 5 staff trained in Incredible Years parenting programme with 3 programmes delivered. 27 families have benefitted from these delivery and all describe the content and group discussion as "Very Helpful". Parents commented that "Things clicked in my head and now I know what I am trying to achieve", "I am finding this very useful". These courses are being independently evaluated by Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) from Forteviot House. A further three deliveries of Incredible years are planned.
  • Play@home worker recruited and located with Health Visiting Team delivering Play@home and baby massage to referred families. 20 families have benefitted from one to one service including one who was introduced to play as a way to help her build her relationship with her new baby after the death of her first child - this mum has been able to return to teaching. 5 families attended baby massage and a further 3 families attended "Play&Stay sessions. Parents describe the sessions as really positive and those moved on have been referred to Book Bug and  PEEP sessions, therapeutic group work and counselling services.
  • 14 multi agency staff signed up to be trained to deliver Escape / Parallel Lines teenage parenting programme and a further 14 signed up to train to deliver  Challenging Years transitional (P7-S1) parenting programme. Both these training programmes will be evaluated with follow-up questionnaires and focus groups to indentify impacts on families.
  • 55 new parents attended Midlothian Parents Voice launches. Two further launches planned in October / November 2010 to help develop parental involvement. These launches which were initiated by the parents network will be evaluated by them.  Some of the parents from the network have been active in the development of the continuum of capacity building and are working towards a peer support network. One parent has been awarded "Volunteer of the Year" for her work with a young mums group. A formal process of evaluation is scheduled for November 2010.

The key outcomes which parents identified at an early stage of the strategy were:

  • Full involvement in strategy, sub groups , planning etc.
  • Values and attitudes training
  • A full menu of parenting programmes covering children of a range of ages
  • Transitional pathways...'especially for moving on from on service to another'
  • Parents network 'Parents voice


What added value has the SOA process brought to the delivery of these benefits?

SOA in Midlothian sets the short term priority outcomes in the context of the overall community planning outcomes agreed by the partnership. The benefit has been to give focus to taking new approaches to particular issues across agencies and their staff, and in collaboration with service users and communities . The SOA prioritises resources to address particular outcomes, and the sharing of these between the service providers.

The SOA process has also aided multi agency senior management ownership and commitment to the strategy, raised the profile with Elected Members, and given access to provide presentations to a full Council meeting and to the Community Planning Working Group. It was an added incentive for partnership working between local authority and other agencies.

Good practice and lessons learned:


  • Multi-agency, multi disciplinary partnership planning and working at both management and practitioner levels.
  • Training and development opportunities on family support programmes and approaches.
  • Parental involvement in all aspects of strategy development, implementation, and evaluation.
  • Input to address attitudes and values as many staff may have held opinions that could have been barriers to them meaningfully engaging with other stakeholders.
  • Parental involvement in all aspects of strategy development, implementation, and evaluation. Parents want to be involved, are enthusiastic and can help staff to feel rejuvenated and positively challenged. They have many creative ideas and a multitude of skills. Their involvement has led to the development of many innovative ideas and led to the breakdown of many barriers. It is very important however that they feel involved. They want to be "worked with" not "done to". Engaging all parents means that there is a need to provide a range of ways for them to become involved.
  • Development of a common language embracing parents as equal partners.
  • Providing a continuum of family support from universal to targeted (Eg from neighbourhood peer support, to parenting programmes, and  to intense therapeutic parenting work).
  • Joint working not only prevents duplication but leads to further cost savings when expensive resources can be shared. Services can plan pathways of development to ensure progression routes from one service to another, for example, from intensive to universal service by enhancing partnership working, which was one of the major key outcomes parents requested that the strategy achieved.
  • Training needs to be arranged to be responsive to multi agency staff with venues, dates and times to suit staff.
  • Working with the voluntary sector assisted in implementing creative solutions (eg recruitment) speedily.

Other relevant information:

This case study is an example of the implementation of the Early Years Framework, which emphasises parental involvement and parenting and family support.

Last Reviewed: 01/06/2011