This study is an evaluation of the Tiny Tots College Programme, delivered by Affinity 2020 Community Interest Company and Unravel. The programme was developed to support care-experienced young parents (up to the age of 25). The programme is split into two interventions: Tiny Tots – Toddlers (post-birth: children aged 0-2) and Tiny Tots – Care Informed Parenting (pre-birth: for expectant parents).
The key elements of the programme involved building good relationships with parents, peer support network, staff providing a safe space, as well as facilitating an integrated approach that focuses on improving parental knowledge and confidence.
The aim of this evaluation was to understand what the Tiny Tots College interventions look like in practice, to assess how well the interventions were received, to make recommendations to improve its delivery and to gauge whether the interventions are ready to be scaled up.
How We Went About It
What Works for Children’s Social Care collected online questionnaires and analytical data from the parents. Online video interviews, focus groups and observations were conducted with Tiny Tots staff and parents. Administrative data was also collected from Tiny Tots College interventions.
- Increased parental knowledge and confidence: The interventions were well received by staff and parents. Both cohorts reported clear benefits from attending the sessions, such as increased parental knowledge and confidence (Tiny Tots – Toddlers) and increased knowledge on pregnancy and childbirth (Tiny Tots – Care Informed Parenting).
- Intervention delivery: The interventions were delivered largely as planned with close adherence to the manual. Some parents from the Tiny Tots – Care Informed Parenting intervention occasionally reported struggling with the volume of information. Both interventions were delivered to fewer parents than expected, and the programme received fewer referrals than anticipated.
- Facilitators: A key facilitator of the success of both interventions was the good relationship between staff and parents. Staff created a warm, comfortable and non-judgemental environment, allowing parents to increase their trust and confidence, and to absorb information more easily.
Future delivery of the Tiny Tots College programme should continue to follow an integrated approach that combines practical and theoretical elements, with staff providing a safe space and building good relationships with parents. Elements seemed to increase parental knowledge and confidence, while the programme also enabled parents to connect with other parents and share experiences.
Next Steps/What Next?
Future evaluation should consider increasing the number of practical sessions for the Tiny Tots Toddlers intervention, reducing the content for the Tiny Tots Care Informed Parenting intervention, improving the referral process to increase referrals and consider delivering some or all sessions in-person to increase engagement.
Future evaluation should consider rolling out at a larger scale supplemented by an impact evaluation. Future evaluations would also benefit from incorporating additional medium and long term measures to consider the full potential benefits of the programme.