BCHC staff with child and parent image


Children's Services

Health Visiting Service

Part of Birmingham Forward Steps, we are a combined health visiting and voluntary agency partners early years’ service, who support all families across Birmingham with children upto the age of 5.

About our service

Part of  Birmingham Forward Steps  early years service.


Birmingham Forward Steps is a combined health visiting and voluntary agency partners early years’ service who support all families across Birmingham with children upto the age of 5 years. They give specific support to children with additional needs and will signpost to other agencies as required such as GPs, midwives and school nurses.


They work in the community with a team offering support, advice and provide universal services to all families. 


The service promotes Healthy Start Vitamins for all children under the age of 4 years.  These can be obtained from your Health Visitor or Children’s Centre.


Health visiting offer services on four levels:


All communities have a range of services provided through Children's Centres and by other community groups, such as voluntary and faith groups. Health Visitors work with these groups to help develop them and to make sure you know  about  them. Health Visitors are also able to help and advise you when you are dealing with Community issues as they know your area well. Health Visitors are also able to assist you with starting up your own group, if there is a need for it in your local area.


Health Visitors and their team provide the Healthy Child Programme to assist you to provide your child with a healthy start (for example immunisation advice, health and development checks), they also support for parents  at key points throughout the early years. These core points are as follows:

  • A visit when you are around 28 weeks pregnant, including dads if they are able to be there.
  • A visit when  baby is 10 to 14 days old
  • A visit when  baby is 6-8 weeks  old
  • A visit when baby is 28-34 weeks
  • A 9 to 12 month health and development review
  • A 2 to 2½ year review jointly with your child’s Educational setting (if attending)

Universal Plus

This may be at certain developmental milestones in your child’s life, following an incident that has affected them or because as a family you need support. This can include any of the following:

  • Post-natal depression
  • Toilet Training
  • Sleep problems
  • Concerns regarding behaviour
  • Relationship issues
  • Breastfeeding
  • Feeding issues/ weaning
  • Speech development

Universal Partnership Plus

Provides continuing support from Health Visiting teams, plus a range of local services working with parents together to deal with more complex issues over a period of time. This can include services from Children's Centres, other community services including charities and, where appropriate, Local Authority Children’s Services.

For example:

  • On-going medical issues
  • Disabilities - early support
  • Mental health issues
  • Drug and alcohol-related issues
  • Learning disabilities
  • School readiness

At school commencement, if a Health Visitor team has been working with you as a family they will ensure that you are introduced to your School Nurse who will continue to support your child up to 19 years of age. 


How is it provided?

The service runs across Birmingham and is divided into districts along ward boundaries.  There are Children Centres based in each District and they provide support in local areas.  The Health Visitors and Assistant Practitioners work alongside family support workers and early years outreach workers to give specific support to individual families.


There are groups in each district which are aimed at children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) which are run by KIDS UK. They aim to help families from early identification of special needs.


Parent Carer Workshops are also provided locally for families to gain a deeper understanding of the help and support available to them. Health Visitors and other staff act as key workers for children with special needs under the age of 5 years.



Who is it for?

Any child age 0-5 can be seen by a Health Visitor who can then advise or refer to the appropriate service for your child.



What happens at an appointment/contact?

There are five mandated contacts over the first four years.  These are:

  • Antenatal from 34 to 38 weeks
  • New birth visit
  • 6 weeks
  • Oneyear developmental check
  • Two year developmental check


You will be sent an appointment for these checks in the post at your local health centre/children’s centre.


Baby Clubs are specific for children under one year to support both parent and child in the first 12 months.


Baby clinics are open to all children under the age of five years.


To find out your nearest health visitor or children's centre / clinic, please visit Birmingham Forward Steps (BFS) and enter your postcode to find your nearest contact.



Children with SEND

BFS Health Visitors and Children Centres' staff support the Education Health Care Plan in the Early Years.  They help families to access the right support in terms of transition into education Local parents through their parent groups provide a link into the SEND Parent Carer Forum which is the voice for children and families with SEND.



Further information

Vitamin D Campaign

Stop Rickets - the Birmingham Campaign

Vitamin D is important for strong bones, particularly during stages of rapid bone growth such as the early years. It is not easy to get enough vitamin D from food sources, and we get most of our requirement from the action of sunlight on the skin. However:

  • The UVB rays needed to produce vitamin D are only available in Birmingham and areas further north between the months of April and October, and in the middle of the day (11am to 3pm).
  • Modern working patterns, use of sun screen, and changes to children’s playing habits, as well as cultural dress which covers most of the skin, all mean that Birmingham residents are not likely to be producing enough vitamin D.
  • Age and skin pigmentation also make the process of vitamin D formation less effective.


The most common problem caused by vitamin D deficiency is rickets, which develops in vitamin D-deficient toddlers as they are starting to learn to walk. Through lack of vitamin D, their bones are soft and their legs become bowed. Other bone deformities can be seen on x-ray. Rickets is treatable and the bones then go back to normal.


Ray of Sunshine image


What is being done about it?

In an effort to prevent cases of rickets, Birmingham has introduced a citywide policy of FREE vitamin supplements for women from the start of pregnancy until their child is 12 months old, and for all children under four. Healthy Start Vitamins for Women and Children's Vitamin Drops are available from Health Visiting teams, some Health Centres and Children’s Centres and some pharmacies (look out for the poster in the window).


To find the nearest place for you to pick up your FREE vitamins:  Vitamin D Sites


If you would like to become an issuing site for the vitamins, please contact Sarah Bates on 0121 683 2303 or bchc.vitamins@nhs.net 


More information about the vitamin scheme and campaign:


In 2016, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommended that  older children and adults who are not pregnant or postnatal should take a daily supplement containing 10 µg a day of vitamin D, at least during winter months. Those who don’t go out with exposed skin, or who are house bound, are advised to take a daily supplement all year round. These can be bought cheaply in pharmacies and supermarkets.


Oily fish is the best dietary source of vitamin D and it is recommended that everyone includes a portion of oily fish a week, for its protective effects against heart disease.

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