It’s a really exciting time for #RadicalChildcare, and we wanted to take this opportunity to share what’s been happening, as well as what is building for the next chapter. A number of people we have worked with and encountered through the #RadicalChildcare work over the last few years are now flying, including the Not Now Collective and Juste 4 Kids. The #RadicalChildcare movement is growing and more people / organisations than ever are exploring the future of this space.
Impact Hub Birmingham and F A M A L A M have been successful in securing a small pot of development money from Big Lottery Fund, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Creative Black Country to work to understand what’s needed to make Birmingham a home for system wide innovation around childcare, children and families. Ultimately, we want to kickstart this 2 year programme to explore, imagine and invest in childcare innovation; a programme that takes a slower, broader systems approach and moves away from fast paced accelerators that are accessible to a narrow demographic, and put citizens and a wide range of sectors at the heart of complex challenges.
The #RadicalChildcare movement has been growing from a seed sown by Amy Martin over two years ago at Impact Hub Birmingham’s opening festival #DemoB. Amy’s utopia shared her own unique experience of motherhood and childcare, whilst placing it into a wider story of how much more needed to happen to make it fit for purpose and a way we truly invest in the future. We started off with some pilot creche spaces within the Impact Hub Birmingham workspaces and started listening as parents shared their struggles, challenges, ideas and hopes.
It was becoming quickly clear that whilst small solutions like the creche space were creating alternative spaces to experiment that experience of childcare, work, families was indeed a much broader more systemic challenge. In the context of Impact Hub Birmingham’s work where we’re increasingly frustrated with the start up ‘silver bullet’ type approach to many social accelerator programmes, Indy Johar and Amy Martin explore this idea further and visit our new movement page here.
#RadicalChildcare Development Phase
We are now co-investing with Big Lottery Fund into a six month development phase to do some further research work on key aspects of the 2 year programme we are proposing, in order to kickstart the work in Birmingham. We are inspired by the work of Helsinki Design Lab’s Ageing Studio and want to ensure our focused experimentation prior to the longer programme sits alongside a wider more systematic piece of work around the future for children and families in Birmingham. There are four main phases alongside the system mapping and discovery. Some of the focus areas, still have working titles, but we have outlined what we will be prototyping and welcome partners who would like to join us for any part of the journey.
Impact Hub Birmingham Parent Membership
We believe that families are a key part of our membership. Our parent membership opens up Impact Hub Birmingham as a place where families can co-construct safer, healthier, more resilient communities together. A live test bed to create affordable, flexible, high quality childcare and understand what is need to make this work well, with a cohort of families who help to feed into the wider research.
Parent-Led Childcare Innovation
This involves engaging families in the design and delivery of shared community childcare through co-design processes. It’s a hot topic; parent cooperatives and flexible childcare offers in community and places of work create lots of benefits to parents and children. We have seen how beneficial it can be at Impact Hub Birmingham, but it’s not easy or cheap – often having to discover lots as you go. The very people who need this most are often busy raising their own young children, and getting this off the ground can be difficult. We would like to test how you make this happen in a community; what and who is needed? what new ideas and contextual innovations happen? We would like create a toolkit as well as understanding the support and investment required to help kickstart such projects across the city, so that in a wider programme we are able work with partners to incubate this work and connect it up well. Our aim is to kickstart the work with families in Bearwood and Smethwick in this phase.
Moving Outside Our Network
We will be using our open inquiry methodology to actively listen, test our assumptions, sense check and grow a wider collective intelligence. One of our primary drivers for this programme was that the demographics of most ‘accelerator / incubator’ programmes are fairly similar and often inaccessible to those at the front line of social issues. Many have said there just isn’t the demand and quality ideas for accelerator programmes around social issues in Birmingham, so it’s better to base it in London. Our experience of this has been quite different. We know there is a ground swell of civic innovation across the city, and it is calling out for an authentic, contextual and focused approach. We also know that we need to move outside of the traditional ‘social’ bubble, and talk with employers, public sector and many more groups across the city to understand the interconnectedness of the challenges and possibilities. We will be looking for groups to work with across the city over the next 6 months, as well as using some of the resource to work with the incredible amount interest we’ve had from people across Birmingham who want to share their ideas and journey. Ultimately, we want to build a broader picture of what is possible in the future, if Birmingham were to better invest in the future of children and families in an radical, bold and brave way.
Working with Centre for Research in Early Childhood
In the broader proposal we have created for a focused investment into this work and outlined the need for a range of research partners. We will be starting a small part of this over the next 6 months with a piece of research to support responsive, flexible childcare which is respectful of the child’s rights and developmental needs. We recognise the benefits of flexible childcare such as the type we are testing at Impact Hub Birmingham. However, who is the flexibility for? Is it detrimental compared to what we know about children’s development? This piece of research would look at how to provide a responsive, flexible form of childcare which also gives children everything they need, no matter the length of time that the child is being cared for; from a 3 hour creche or a 2 week summer school. It’s about empowering childcare practitioners to be able to assess the developmental needs of the child within flexible provision and to provide high quality provision on demand. This strand will result in open source learning resources being co-designed, developed and tested with childcare practitioners and Early Years experts. We are in discussions with CREC at the moment to finalise the process, but are hoping to create an open process for others to attend this if they are interested in the topic. If you are interested in this, please get in touch here.
For more information and to see our full project proposal and development plans, visit our new development phase page here.
A Children’s Hub For Birmingham
We believe in the future this movement needs a focused home, and with support from Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Ideas & Pioneers Fund we are also starting to test the feasibility of opening a Children’s Hub in Birmingham as part of our next phase of Impact Hub Birmingham. Children’s Hub would be a multifaceted space that would combine an arts programme, nursery and creative learning programme focused on celebrating, supporting and championing childhood in Birmingham. PHF’s Ideas & Pioneers Fund supports people with unusual or radical ideas to improve the life chances and opportunities of people in the UK. We plan to use this funding to gather evidence, assess the need and viability, and co-design the vision and values for the Children’s Hub with children and families in Birmingham. To get involved and receive updates, sign up to our mailing list here: www.brumchildrenshub.org
We’re really excited to take this work forward, and we invite you to follow progress from afar via our mission page or get super involved and add your work, ideas and possibilities with us too. Here are a few ways to connect and get involved, plus a growing collection of toolkits, reports and links to useful things to support #RadicalChildcare movement building that can be found on our resources page.
- Follow the #RadicalChildcare hashtag on twitter
- Join our #RadicalChildcare Facebook Group
- Sign up to the #RadicalChildcare e-list via F A M A L A M