Setting up a Parent and Toddler Group

Where do I start?

  • Source an appropriate venue or location that can facilitate a suitable number of children and adults at any one time
  • When will you be able to have access to the building? What days and for how long?
  • Is the building wheelchair and buggy accessible?
  • Does the venue have adequate parking?
  • Is the building safe and secure for children?
  • Is the building well-ventilated?
  • Is there a suitable place/kitchenette for food and drink preparation?
  • Is there sufficient storage for equipment and materials?
  • Is there enough space for children to freely play?
  • Are there toilet facilities /baby changing facilities?
  • Contact your local Childcare Committee for support;

At Cork City Childcare we endeavour to assist with the many aspects associated with the general running, management and maintenance of your group.

  • Giving Information on the steps to consider when setting up a P&T group
  • Information support on financial expenditure
  • Information on resources & equipment, best practices, health & safety
  • Developing policies & procedures
  • Support with advertising your group effectively
  • Support creating Facebook account to promote your group
  • Support with the maintenance & sustainability of your group
  • Information on programme planning, activities, ideas & the general managing and organising of the group
  • Best practices in keeping children safe, secure and stimulated within the environment
  • Tips on how to make your group more inclusive and diverse
  • Updates and support with the application for P&T grants which will be announced shortly.
  • Co-facilitation or tips on facilitation
  • It is important that you undertake a little background research;
  • Knowledge of the groups that currently exist close by
  • have you a niche?
  • will you be able to offer anything unique to other groups in the area?
  • Will you have enough demand?
  • Have you spoken to parents/guardians in your area about setting it up?
  • Have you identified other parents/guardians that are willing to help you?
  • Think about a name for your group
  • Be sure that it ties in with your target audience
  • Link it to the group’s values if possible
  • What days and times do you plan to run your group?
  • Consider what may suit the target group best i.e. could you run alternate days to that of other local parent and toddler groups
  • Will your group be clashing with any other community activities or groups?
  • Think about what times are best; consider parents who might need to drop or collect older children from school or preschool
  • Will you run your group all year round, will it break up for summer months, will it run through Easter and Christmas and mid-term breaks, will it run on Bank Holidays?
  • Who will be responsible for running your group?
  • Facilitator-led (run by organisation with a support person) vs

Parent or Volunteer-Led?

  • Will there be one or multiple organisers?
  • Will you have a committee?
  • What role(s) will each person play if you have multiple organisers e.g. venue operations (opening & locking up of building, booking building, finance; dealing with weekly income, expenditure, purchasing of equipment and toys, running costs and bills associated with the group, health & safety; keeping check of health & safety incidents (log any incidents in a book), monitoring of child protection concerns or potential safety hazazrds, planning, organising and booking of activities, set up and clean-up of all equipment and resources, advertising and promoting the group; running social media page, creating and distributing leaflets.
  • What are the main objectives of your group?
  • Think about how you want to portray groups purpose, values & ethos
  • Who do you want to support & how do you hope to achieve it?
  • Consider the weekly attendance cost?
  • What will weekly charge go towards e.g. weekly light refreshments, rental costs/bills, equipment, ensure to make it affordable for attendees?                                                                                          

Parent and Toddler Group Maintenance & Sustainability

Essential Requirements:

  • Good communication and organisational skills
  • Open a bank account specific to the group
  • Public Liability Insurance
  • Health and Safety Assessment of the building
  • Equipment and Resources;
  • Ensure that are materials are non-toxic, CE approved and age appropriate
  • Weekly Sign in/attendance book (Parent/Guardian name sign in/out and tick if paid weekly fee)
  • Incident Report book (to record any incidents as they occur and store safely, ensure to log how incident was dealt with)
  • Completion of Child Protection e-learning
  • Keeping record of finances and log of expenditure
  • Basic First Aid Box
  • Schedule fire drills
  • Set up an email solely for the group
  • If the group changes hands ensure that you pass on the details of the email and passwords, this is important to provide consistency and continuity for future organisers and attendees
  • A qualified first aider (one of the organisers) to be at each session

Policies and Procedures to consider:

  • Finance Policy (how and who manages the finances, what is expenditure spent on)
  • Health and Safety Policy (Fire safety, building safety, supervision by parents/guardians)
  • Accident/Injury & Infection Control Policy (how incidents are logged, where they are logged, how they are dealt with, what is suggested if infection becomes issue)
  • Child Safeguarding Statement
  • Child Protection Statement
  • Inclusion Policy (Promotion of equality, inclusion and diversity within the group, welcoming people of all different backgrounds, cultures, religions, races etc.)
  • Photo release/consent forms (activities, where photos may be displayed)
  • GDPR policy (confidentiality/ data storage)
  • Social Media Policy (how you manage your social media accounts, what is prohibited and permitted, photo consent, who has access to the managing of social media accounts)
  • An Outings Policy (who is responsible for the child(ren) on outings, insurance, information on who pays for outing)


It is important that parents/guardians in the community are aware that the group is in existence. 

Advertising Ideas: Distributing leaflets and posters, talking at events to promote the group, creating and maintaining social media account(s), setting up a text group for members and a separate one for organisers to ensure that there is effective communication is important for the consistency and smooth running of the group.

Where do I advertise? Local Shops/Shopping Centres, GP Surgeries, local schools and childcare facilities, post offices, community halls, local newspapers/newsletters, banks, hair salons, play centres, social media.

Other Desirable Requirements:

  • Welcome Statement/Mission, Ethos and values of the group
  • Welcome Letters for new attendees
  • Experience with group facilitation
  • Weekly Activity/Play Planner
  • Weekly check-in and introduction of new members
  • Registration forms for each child attendee
  • Liaise with the designated Development Worker in your local Childcare Committee (for extra supports/information on certain resources/training, activity ideas/advertising etc. your designated Development Worker can help you)

Funding and Finance

Parent & Toddler Group Grants:

Childcare Committees have designated funding annually which Parent and Toddler groups can avail of.  Please contact your local Childcare Committee for details. 

Other ways to raise funds:

  • Applying a weekly charge for attendees
  • Fundraising activities e.g. cake sale in local community hall/schools, quiz, raffles, local walk/running races
  • Funds from local businesses

 What do you need to open a bank account?

Visit the following page for more information on opening a bank account 

 Making your group Inclusive:

Be sure that you offer a welcoming and inclusive environment for all attendees.

Inclusive environments can be easily created in a variety of ways i.e.:

  • Being accepting and welcoming of any parents/toddlers who attend that are from different cultures or minority groups
  • Modelling respect and the importance of a non-judgmental attitudes
  • Displaying posters with different cultural traditions around the venue
  • Celebrating or acknowledging various cultural traditions
  • Ensuring that there is equipment available that is reflective of different races e.g., dolls of various ethnicities, paint/crayon colours that can provide different skin tones

Advantages of Attending or Facilitating Parent Toddler Groups:

There are many benefits for both parent/carer and child when attending a Parent and Toddler group.  These groups are essential parts of each community and, at times, they may be the only source of social interaction for the parent/carer and child throughout their entire week and thereby their influence should not be underestimated.

  • Eliminates isolation for parents/guardians, carers, childminders/nannies, grandparents and infants/children in their care
  • Promotes socialisation for both the adults and children who attend
  • Stimulates children’s holistic development; Social, Emotional, Physical, Linguistic, Creative and Cognitive development
  • Fosters positive play practices
  • Promotes early literacy via books, rhymes, songs, rhythm, and dance
  • Creates a sense of community and allows attendees to build relationships with others in their community
  • Promotes a sense of belonging for both child and adult
  • Gives attendees opportunities to discuss any arising issues that they are having regarding parenting, child health, nutrition, life in general
  • May be the only emotional outlet for the adult to de-stress
  • It is an informal early intervention support for families
  • Gives parents/carers something to look forward to, helps them establish a routine
  • Helps to prepare toddlers for preschool entry

If you intend on setting up your Parent & Toddler Group in the Cork city region, please contact Cork City Childcare on 021-4310500 and ask for the Development Worker allocated to supporting the Parent & Toddler groups.