Volunteer Home-Visiting Service

Due to funding, at present this service is only available in East Sussex (not Brighton & Hove.)

“ M arranged for us to go to the group, and then came with us. I really needed some moral support to actually make it there. I struggle with new places, but A really loves it, it is worth making the effort”

Home-Start East Sussex believes that every child should have the opportunity to reach their  potential

There are many issues that families struggle with, that directly or indirectly impact on their children’s learning and development:

  • parental feelings of isolation, depression or anxiety
  • baby/toddler behaviour including sleeping/eating
  • Child/parent disability or illness
  • difficulties with living environment

The aim of this service is to address the barriers that affect a families’ ability to develop learning and developmental opportunities for their preschool children. Parent-volunteers are recruited, vetted and attend an 8 week training course. Following training, they are matched with a family for 8-12 visits or 4 months who they support to offer emotional and practical support in a range of situations. Once those barriers have been addressed, parents are more able to:

  • develop a learning friendly environment at home
  •  identify skills and developmental milestones which the child would need to succeed at school
  • parent effectively

Families can contact us directly or via another statutory or voluntary service that is currently supporting them.  The support is open to families of children from birth to starting school age. Feedback is provided by the volunteers and the families we work with to ensure that we are constantly improving the service.

Outcomes measured:

  1. Children will experience an improved home environment. For example, ensuring availability of toys and books, implementing de-cluttering and cleaning routines and managing household budgets
  2. Children will benefit from their parents improved skills in parenting. For example accessing appropriate services, establishing routines and boundaries, reducing conflict
  3. Children’s learning and development skills will improve so that they are ready for nursery/school. For example, volunteers help parents to encourage and support their children to cope away from their parents, recognise their own name, use the toilet and understand simple hygiene.


Please click here to download our Home Visiting referral form.


Please have a read through our Frequently Asked Questions if you are thinking of making a referral..

Families can submit an Enquiry Form  so we can contact you to arrange an informal chat in the first instance.

We also accept submitted Enquiry Forms from any statutory or voluntary agency working with the family.  It is the third parties responsibility to gain permission to share the potential service-user’s contact details with us.

You can also find out more by contacting the home-visiting service Family Support & Volunteer Coordinator  Egle at egle.kelpsaite@hses.org.uk  or 07395791374.

School Readiness – The National and Local Picture

While all children are born ready to learn (Kagan 1999), school readiness requires a positive environment to develop particular skills prior to entering school.  Evidence emphasizes the time-sensitive relationship of the development of these skills to a child’s later school achievement (e.g. Snow 2007).

School readiness is a combination of three domains:

  1. learned behaviours such as knowing colours and shapes, counting numbers and saying letters of the alphabet;
  2. attitude and emotional competence, as in listening to directions, being interested in learning and behaving in a socially acceptable manner;
  3. developmental maturation, including fine and gross motor development and sitting still for an appropriate period of time

School Readiness – the percentage of children achieving a good level of development at the end of reception – is a key measure of early years development across a wide range of developmental areas.

Approx one in four children in East Sussex are not school ready by year one which equates to eight children in a class of 30.  HSES understands that to increase the number of children that are school ready, we must work collaboratively with parents at the earliest possible time, to help parents to grow in confidence and to empower them to understand and support their child’s development inside and outside of the home environment.  We know from a huge amount of research that parenting is by far the biggest determinant of school readiness. Children who do not have secure parental bonds are more likely to display behavioural problems so we support parents to improve their relationships and effectively manage behavioural issues. We also recognise that mums and dads are a child’s first teachers. Our volunteers role-model playing with children, singing songs, creating rhymes and reading stories.  These activities put in place the motor, vocabulary and communication skills that will enable their children to thrive.

Poverty is a compounding factor when it comes to school readiness. Children from the poorest homes are a year behind in their language and literacy skills by the age of 5.  Last year, only around half of children eligible for free school meals had reached their key development milestones by the time they started primary school.

If gaps in school readiness are not addressed, inequalities can persist and grow throughout a child’s school life. Previous research by the Education Policy Institute in 2016 found that the school readiness gap at five years old explains 40% of the attainment gap at the end of secondary school –  and far more likely to experience poor health and low pay as adults.


For more information, please see our Volunteer Home Visiting Service FAQs.