9. Simplifying and streamlining delivery
While many areas have made significant progress in community planning in recent years, many people feel that evidence of integrated delivery is more limited. If we are to improve outcomes as we all aspire to, then community planning partners will need to place a particular focus on joining up delivery around children and families to provide the continuum of support that is needed.
Some stakeholders have argued for a rapid move towards a single early years budget across various agencies and eventually bringing all early years services into a single management structure. However, others argued that this could be time-consuming and distracting and that it was more important in the short-term to create the conditions for better joint working through an organisational development approach. Our conclusion is that there is no single solution to joining up delivery on the ground and that the needs of different parts of Scotland are so diverse as to make any single approach impractical. Equally, there is a strong sense that the status quo is not an option because the complexity of existing delivery structures is a barrier to some of our objectives around engaging parents and delivering a holistic service. Local partners should therefore set a medium-term plan for simplifying the delivery of early years services and consider whether there is scope for simplification of budgets and organisational structures to support that.
A streamlined and coherent 0-3 service
At the moment, there is a clear lead from health in antenatal services and from 3 upwards through education. The situation for 0-3 services is less clear, with overlapping education, health, social work and community services all playing distinctive roles. A key priority must therefore be to develop a coherent 0-3 service which has clear strategic leadership.
The task groups examined a range of delivery models including family centres and multi-agency approaches. The conclusion was that there is no single model that can be applied to meet the needs of children, families and communities across Scotland due to the diversity of geography and social circumstances that exist.
There may well be a role for a greater number of family centres, but the majority of the improvement in outcomes is likely to come from enhancing family and community capacity alongside building the capability of mainstream services to meet additional needs.