10. More effective collaborations
The private and third sectors are major providers of early years services, accounting for nearly 30% of pre-school provision, an even larger share of childcare provision and a wide variety of supports and services for parents and children with higher needs. Some of the most flexible, engaging, innovative and holistic services are provided through these sectors.
The existing partnership model has brought diversity of provision and made use of many of the particular skills and qualities that the private and third sectors bring to early years. There is a widespread feeling, however, that in many areas we have been left with a patchwork of services that reflects organic growth rather than a strategic approach, and that the nature of partnership will need to evolve if we are to collectively meet the challenges set by this framework.
There are several difficult issues to resolve in moving this forward, but the key areas are around developing more strategic partnerships, including partnership at strategic planning levels, developing models of joint delivery involving public and private/third sector providers, establishing long-term funding arrangements and funding that reflects the real cost of delivering high-quality services.