28 June 2010

Northamptonshire County Council is to launch a new text alert system tomorrow (TUES) to help parents stay connected and informed about services for children and families in the county.

The new scheme is called My Child and it works through an opt-in system where parents can sign up to receive text alerts from the council at key milestones in their child’s life up to the age of five.

Councillor Andrew Grant, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Juggling work with the demands of running a household and raising a family mean that modern parents have busy lives. We want to provide a way of communicating with parents that cuts back on bureaucracy, and makes it easy to find out about our services and takes advantage of technology that they are already comfortable with.

“Text messaging is such a simple way to us to get in touch and signpost the important and valued services we provide for children and families.”

The initiative works when a parent signs up to the service. They provide a few details, including their child’s date of birth, and from then until the child’s fifth birthday, they will receive text messages to remind them about important milestones such as when to register for a primary school place or pick up a bookstart pack from their library.

The system can also link to web pages or online applications and is free for parents to subscribe to.

The launch of My Child follows the success of a pilot scheme in Northamptonshire to trial online applications for Free School Meals. The pilot scheme, the first in the country, allowed parents who texted their details to a dedicated council number to find out if their children were entitled to Free School Meals. The pilot is credited with ensuring an extra 80 more children receive a free meal at school so far.

The funding for My Child comes from the Connect Digitally Project. Funded by the Department for Education, the project aims to use a variety of technologies to ensure that parents are able to access services and benefits from local authorities to benefit their children and their education.