9. Views On Opportunities For Integrated Services
Children and Families use a variety of national and local services, and co-locating or linking these with ELC provision may bring benefits to users and/or providers of the service such as integrated services which are better, more convenient and/or easier to access. In addition, integrated services may offer better value for money or raise awareness of common interests.
Question 8: Are there other services for children and young people that the trials should be integrated with?
9.1 49 respondents addressed this question with much support emerging for establishing integrated approaches to ELC provision. These were viewed as building on the intentions of the Children and Young People's (Scotland) Act 2014 in terms of collaborative working and an effective way of targeting support where most needed, such as areas of deprivation.
9.2 Whilst some examples were provided of existing approaches to integrated working, many respondents considered that this is a relatively untapped area with much potential for development:
"Consultation with the sector would be beneficial to identify opportunities to extend current levels of integration and joint working, building on the work of the Early Years Collaborative. Levels of integration with other services are currently very limited, so this is an opportunity to make improvements" (Voluntary Organisation).
9.3 A few respondents recommended that developing links with relevant services should be an early priority for ELC providers, with one voluntary organisation advocating grounding this in initial mapping to gain an understanding of local needs.
Integration with health and social care services
9.4 A common theme across a wide range of respondent sectors was that linking health and specialist additional support services to ELC provision would reap benefits in terms of targeting those most in need and increasing efficiencies in provision (for example, reducing missed appointments).
9.5 Links were envisaged with health visitors; health centres; health care professionals; dental hygienists; and supporting services such as interpreters.
9.6 Many respondents identified integrated working with additional specialist support services to include:
- Educational psychologist
- Speech and language professionals
- Disability services
- Mental health services
- Audiology services
- Play therapists
9.7 To harness such a variety of services under one roof, several respondents recommended developing the Family Centre approach which a few described as a "one stop shop" to accessing ELC along with family support services more generally. Examples of current effective Family Centre approaches were given:
- Midlothian Council - "Lifelong Learning and Employability, Financial Inclusion Network, Housing, Health, Children's Services are all services within Midlothian Council that our Family Learning Centre model will connect with to offer a 'one stop shop' service to local children and families" (Local Government) .
- West Dunbartonshire Council - Through the Raising Attainment Challenge WDC is developing a family support hub based on two ELC centres and two primary schools in the Clydebank area which may provide the catalyst to trial more family orientated approaches to childcare.
Integration with other services for parents
9.8 It was acknowledged by a few voluntary and other sector respondents that parents may have support needs themselves and that service provision for them could usefully be integrated with provision of ELC for their children. Services identified specifically were: those to address drug dependence; mental health services; parenting classes; and behaviour management classes.
9.9 Three respondents recommended further development of initiatives such as Stay and Play as ways to engage with parents and involve them in ELC provision.
Collaborative working across
9.10 Calls were made for greater collaboration between local authorities and private nurseries in particular over delivering seamless provision. Much potential was identified in exploring ways of integrating childminding provision with that of other providers.
9.11 A recurring theme was that potential exists for development of out of school provision which links with ELC. A holistic model of provision was envisaged linking ELC with out of school settings, bringing together siblings who attend different settings through the school day ( e.g. primary school and nursery), with some respondents recommending extension of provision to breakfast clubs and youthwork settings to cater for older children.
9.12 Integrated working was viewed as essential to smooth transitions between settings and between stages, such as ELC to primary school.
9.13 Seven respondents highlighted in particular what they perceived to be potential for developing links with informal pre-school provision. Holiday clubs, toddler and other playgroups were mentioned:
"The trials should encourage use of service provision such as childminders who already provide integrated services in their communities - access to Bookbug; toddler groups; childminding groups and who know the families in their communities. This knowledge and experience should not be undervalued" (Representative body).
Integration with local leisure services
9.14 Six respondents identified potential in ELC providers linking with local leisure services in order to access community facilities for physical activity and also for creative arts.
Integration with training providers
9.15 Three respondents recommended that a partnership approach with training providers for the ELC workforce is engendered in order to promote effective and flexible ways of combining study and practice.
Implications for proposed trials
9.16 There was strong support for establishing integrated approaches to ELC provision with links between ELC, health and specialist additional support services highlighted in particular, perhaps within a Family Centre setting, suggesting merit in trialling this approach.
9.17 Other dominant themes were increasing collaborative approaches between local authorities and private sector providers; integrating childminding provision with other provision; and furthering links between out of school settings with ELC. Trials focusing on exploring such opportunities could be undertaken in a variety of geographical settings such as urban, suburb and rural to identify where impact is of most benefit and also the different challenges to be faced in forging these collaborations.