The Brokerage Service help parents and carers to find suitable childcare or early education. They look for available childcare providers based on your families requirements.
The Family Information Service provides this service. They are able to provide information about the range of options available which may enable parents and carers return to work, education or training.
The service was introduced as a requirement of the Childcare Act 2006, which stipulated those local authorities should provide an enhanced information service to local families who may benefit from a little extra help.
You can talk to Southampton Family Information Service about the availability and types of local childcare and early education providers. Other ways we can help Southampton residents are:
- Helping to find emergency childcare options or alternative childcare at short notice
- Speaking to childcare providers and support services on the families’ behalf
- Helping families to access childcare and other services if they or their child has a disability or special needs
- Ensuring that any financial help families may be entitled to has been thoroughly investigated
- Helping families to understand the information available to them, for example if a parent has a visual impairment, language or literacy difficulties
Who can use the Southampton Brokerage Service?
The service is aimed to support Southampton residents such as:
- Lone parents/carers who are thinking of returning to work or study
- Families who have children with an additional need
- Parents/carers who cannot find childcare that meets their needs from the lists obtained from the Southampton Family Information Service
- Parents/carers unable to find a suitable free early education place
- Parents/carers who are concerned about leaving their child with someone else for long periods during the day, especially first-time parents
- Families living in a rural location
- Families living on a low income
- Families where the parent is suffering from a serious illness
- Young parents
- Families where the parent only speaks English as an additional language
We help parents with children up to 5 years old. If a child or young person has Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND), then the Service can support parents until their child is 25 years old.
Get help finding childcare from the Brokerage Service
You can request help finding childcare using the form below:
Before you fill in this form
You won't be able to save this form to complete later, so please allow yourself at least five minutes to fill in the form.
What happens next?
1 Step 1 SHOW
Once you have submitted a request the Brokerage Service will then be able to contact you to find out more about your requirements. They can then begin searching for appropriate childcare using the information provided.
You can also contact Family Information Service by emailing FIS@southampton.gov.uk.
2 Step 2 SHOW
On your behalf and with your permission, we will contact all suitable childcare providers. We will check their availability based on your family's needs.
This may take up to 10 working days. If more time is necessary, we will make further contact to discuss this with you. For example, if you need childcare in a limited but local area.
3 Step 3 SHOW
The Brokerage Service will supply a list of appropriate providers to contact. Depending on your request, there may only be one provider that meets your needs.
Advice will include signposting to further information and suggested questions to ask providers.
It is then your responsibility to contact the provider(s) as soon as possible to ensure that vacancies are not filled by other families.
4 Step 4 SHOW
Once decided, parents are responsible for emailing their decision to the Brokerage Service.
Please note: we are here to talk you through every part of your journey and answer any questions you have.
We will then ask you to complete a feedback form. Your feedback will help to improve our services.
Childcare brokerage for vulnerable children
Vulnerable families do not always use free childcare even though we know that early years education can be hugely beneficial for them. Southampton City Council’s Family Information Service has a system in place to promote the take up of entitlement by children in need.
The Early Years and Childcare service can demonstrate how the Family Information Service has developed a procedure to ensure that all children in care (looked after children) attend their funded early education place at two, three and four years, including those in foster care and with special guardianship arrangements.
It is a requirement of the Childcare Acts 2006 and 2016 for Councils to offer a Childcare Brokerage Service to help vulnerable families find a childcare place for their child. There are a range of barriers which may prevent or limit access to early years education, including a lack of confidence on behalf of parents to engage with local services.
Childcare brokerage practices have developed in Southampton and we have identified that offering a Childcare Brokerage Service to vulnerable children improves the take up of childcare entitlements.
The Childcare Brokerage Service will use information from various databases to identify those vulnerable children not attending a childcare place and will proactively follow up with professionals working with those children to encourage take up.
The Early Years and Childcare Service will hold regular briefings with the relevant Social Work and Early Help Teams, so they are aware of the benefits of the entitlements. The support offered through the service includes contacting suitable childcare providers and offering parents child support activities.
Southampton Family Information Service encourages Social Workers and Early Help practitioners to document which childcare providers the children are attending on their case management database. Southampton City Council’s Family Information Service can provide information or training for Southampton City Council staff, so they understand the impact of Brexit, Universal Credit and other Childcare benefits on Early Years entitlements to ensure that (as far as possible) take up is maximised by vulnerable children.
The work is multifaceted and there is much to consider with this approach, including complying with the relevant Data Protection laws. However, Southampton City Council’s experience demonstrates that a proactive Childcare Brokerage Service to target known families is an effective method of improving the take up of childcare entitlements by vulnerable children.