Claire Hunter is the manager of Brookvale and Windmill Hill Children’s Centres.
Claire and her team have been providing opportunities for Halton’s families since 2007, making sure the centres are happy, welcoming places for all pre-school children in the borough.
At Brookvale the current group of nursery children play outside, wrapped up warm in their multi-coloured coats and hats. They look happy; holding hands and chatting together, enjoying the chance to play in the early Spring sunshine.
“All three and four-year-olds are eligible for 15 hours of free childcare a week,” says Claire, before explaining that some families in Halton may also be eligible for extra childcare to support two-year-olds.
Brookvale is one of eight centres, with four in Runcorn and four in Widnes. Registration is open for every parent in Halton with a pre-school child.
“Our main focus is to support families and to make sure that their child is ready for school,” says Claire, “We do this in a number of ways. We have a brilliant choice of drop-in sessions at each centre and we encourage every new parent to try at least one session such as Stay and Play.
We would be lost without the Children's Centres. There's something to do every day of the week, says Jenny, mum to Jessica aged 10 months.
"We offer sessions in Parent Craft, baby massage, messy play, Terrific Twos, and Early Explorers - to name just a few. Two of our centres - Brookvale and Halton Lodge - also have cafes. Come along to a centre, register with us and find out if there’s a class or session you’d like to try. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy special time with your baby, get out and meet other mums or just ask for help if you need it.”
All centres are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5.30pm. Some sessions may incur a small charge. Click on the name of each centre for more details. To find out if you are eligible for free childcare for your two-year-old simply contact your nearest children’s centre.