Successes and lessons learned
The EYC featured in many of the reports of successes. Several CPPs reported that the EYC has been well received and has helped strengthen communication, co-ordination and partnership working.
There were many examples of improvement methodology enabling CPPs to identify areas where real change is taking place and where activities are making a real difference for children and their families. In North Ayrshire, for example: Improvements using the EYCs improvement model in parent's engagement in their child's learning where, instead of the same 10 parents who attended each week (out of 110) at the Springvale Early Years Centre, there are now 100 parents and carers attending weekly.
In East Renfrewshire, the EYC is enabling the CPP and partners to look at spend in a new way: The development of cross department, cross-sector working through the EYC has enabled conversations about activity spend, and disinvestment, to take place in a way that has not been done before. A range of views from different professions at different levels of seniority have enabled us to identify significant and genuine opportunities to rationalise spend while improving service outcomes. This work is also making explicit the link between individual services, their partners and the wider agenda of Early Years. This has created a renewed enthusiasm for Early Years work which in turn is creating conversations that we believe will inform significant changes in preventative spending over the coming years.
The yearly returns show how CPPs have progressed the EYC and the following example shows this development in the first two years of the Change Fund within Angus:
Case study: Angus Early Years Collaborative
2013/2013: The EYC has been well received by partners in Angus. The Angus 'Away Team' includes 25 staff from NHS Tayside, Tayside Police, Voluntary Sector and Angus Council, all of whom have attended the two learning events in Glasgow. Staff are becoming increasingly familiar with the collaborative methodology and a number of 'tests of changes' are underway including work with individual families to improve aspects of attachment, child development and behaviour management. The methodology of the Collaborative will continue to be embedded in working practice to support some of the key priority areas for early years in Angus over the coming months and years.
2013/2014: Scaling up. We now need to look to the Early Years Collaborative and how other tests of change have been scaled up in order to advance our own scaling up of key projects. Success with the Nurture Spaces and Cosy Corners needs financial commitment if we are to commit to further improvements. This will be a key priority for the Early Years Strategy 15/16.
Improvement methodology was also key to learning lessons and refining programme delivery: As has been reported previously reflection over the course of the programme has also shown us that often initial assumptions must be revisited and that the scale of a test of change is critical to learning from it. Working with driver diagrams has been invaluable in supporting this as it allows us to examine and issue / challenge and take the thinking further in terms of the changes that may make a difference. (West Dunbartonshire).
Returns also show that there is strong leadership, developed and developing multi-agency working and a continuing focus, both strategically and locally, on the early years agenda; several CPPs highlighted these areas as successes. In Argyll and Bute, for example: The governance structure ensures consultation with practitioners around potential spend within the Change Fund prior to finalising with the EYC Leadership Group and Argyll and Bute's Children, thus ensuring there is transparency around the process and 'buy-in' from all agencies involved.
CPPs also reported on their development of best practice models for embedding and delivering GIRFEC, including South Ayrshire: Over the past 3 years services have worked together to self-evaluate and make improvements across children's services. Part of this approach has involved developing a performance framework based on GIRFEC. This is a work in progress to identify key measures and outcomes for targeted groups of children and young people.
Several CPPs detailed successes in providing specific programmes, achieving outcomes and addressing local priorities, including activities that have been commended as examples of good practice. In Midlothian, for example: The Big Bedtime Read EYC project has been a very successful low cost, high impact initiative, including winning a Silver COSLA award and receiving national and international interest. The concept has been embedded in practice in our key areas and is expanding to cover all areas of need in Midlothian .
Among the many other successes highlighted by CPPs were:
- Improved health and well-being of children and families. The use of the nurturing approach to provide these positive impacts.
- Positive impacts on specific groups, including the most vulnerable, for example: Key successes are the impact of direct family support services across agencies on the most vulnerable families, improving parenting capacity, supporting those with mental health issues, improving attachment and reducing family stress, the provision of Healthy Start vitamins universally to all young children and the ongoing development of our effective multi-agency working relationships through the Partnership and the EYC teams (Western Isles).
- Delivering sustainable services.
- Engaging and involving parents and children.
CPPs also shared the lessons they have learned in delivering their early years activities and some examples showing the range of lessons learned or challenges met by CPPs are given below.
Falkirk: At no point have we used the change fund to fund posts to provide services within Falkirk Council or third sector organisations. This means that we have not in a situation of looking for continued funding to make initiatives sustainable. This was a lesson learned from the Changing Children's Services Fund.
Fife: The delivery of the Family Nurture Approach is multi-faceted and is beginning to provide a range of very positive outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and families. The lessons learned are being embedded into practice across the early years with much of the workforce development undertaken allowing a sustainable delivery of family work and parenting interventions.
Inverclyde: The work that continues within the early years agenda around family learning and parental skills has successfully evidenced that parents may learn better from other parents and will take support offered from other parents before they will seek the support of professionals and statutory services. Locally support provided by Barnado's, Action for Children, Save the Children and Columba 1400 has a measured impact and continues to impact local parents and their families. Services recognise however, that for this to continue to improve outcomes public and third sector organisations will have to work collaboratively for the same aim.
Orkney: Having a co-ordinator or programme manager is key to enable information sharing and sharing of good practice across localities. Isolation of posts can however, be challenging and it could be beneficial to have greater networking amongst this staff group.
Western Isles: Learning points are the need to share information earlier, continuing challenges around capacity for improvement work and a need to focus on better analysis of data to inform ongoing developments.
Stirling: Earlier consideration given to evaluation of projects would have been helpful.
Email: Steven Fogg, email@example.com