This section of the Early Years Change Fund return looked at local priorities for children and families in early years. CPPs were asked to outline:
- The outcomes they have identified as needing improvement and what they are trying to accomplish
- How the impact of the activity will be measured. What indicators, milestones and targets have been set and how the CPP will identify whether the change is an improvement.
- What specific actions they propose to take to achieve these outcomes and what changes will be made that will result in improvement.
In addition, in 2013/14 and 2014/15, CPPs were asked to provide specific examples of preventative spending  .
Also in 2013/14 and 2014/15, CPPs were asked to provide specific examples of disinvestment, including disinvestment from wider activity beyond the change fund that has a bearing on the early years.
Detail varied across returns with some CPPs giving information on broad outcomes and objectives, others focussing more on specific priorities or change areas and some giving information on outcomes and priorities at all levels.
Many of the CPPs reported on medium or longer term high-level outcomes which are included in their SOA, ICSP, Early Years Strategy or other strategic plan.
As such, for several of the CPPs many of the early years priority areas identified for improvement remained the same in each year of the return. Some of the CPPs also, however, reported that priorities have been, or are planned to be reassessed. In Dumfries and Galloway, for example: current local priorities for the Early Years have been shaped by the recommendations of the joint inspection of children services 2014, and the resulting Children's Services Plan.
It is clear from returns that CPPs see early years as a priority. The following are the main themes mentioned in relation to high-level early years outcomes, with some examples.
Ensuring children have the best start in life: Our babies and children are nurtured and have the best possible start in life (South Ayrshire)
- Tackling problems caused by drugs and alcohol (Dundee)
- Reduction of child poverty (Glasgow)
- To improve outcomes for those affected by family dysfunction, domestic abuse, alcohol and substance misuse and mental health issues (Western Isles)
Focus on early intervention or prevention:
- Early identification of children & families in need of support (Glasgow)
- All staff working in early years to deliver on prevention through universal and targeted interventions (Aberdeen)
- To shift to preventative and early intervention approaches whilst continuing to deliver services to children who need them most (Aberdeenshire)
- Slows the demand for service/support by intervening earlier and with the right people at the right time (West Lothian)
Support for families and vulnerable families, including:
- Positive parenting
- Good parent-child attachment and positive parent-child relationships
- Strengthen universal ante natal and early years services especially for vulnerable children and families (Edinburgh)
- To provide flexible respite services to vulnerable families when required (Western Isles)
Support for specific groups, including:
- Support for Looked After Children and reducing the need for children to become Looked After
- Increased fostering capacity
- Strengthened Kinship Care arrangements
Keeping children safe: All Falkirk children will grow up in a safe environment where they are protected, loved and enabled to enjoy their lives (Falkirk)
Enabling: A place where they have a voice, have opportunities, learn and get around (Moray)
- To improve child healthy weight (Western Isles)
- Have good physical, emotional and mental health and well-being (Renfrewshire)
- Help to ensure children achieve their developmental milestones and are then able to participate fully in school (Scottish Borders)
- Improved attainment and achievement for early years, primary and secondary schools (West Dunbartonshire)
- Improve children's readiness to learn and achieve (East Lothian)
Community engagement: To increase community engagement and participation in the Early Years Centre (Scottish Borders)
Monitoring and Evaluation: Children and young people benefit from clear protocols, procedures and effective systems for recording observations and concerns which take account of best practice in information-sharing (Highland)
- Ensure a joint strategic direction for service development (Orkney)
- Integrates universal and specialist investment in a systematic and strategic approach (West Lothian)
- To identify and address concerns earlier through more effective multi-agency information sharing (Western Isles)
GIRFEC implementation: Revisit and review the implementation of Getting It Right For Every Child (Orkney)
Staff development: Develop a shared learning programme for Orkney children's services workforce (Orkney)
To develop workforce skills to carry forward the improvement agenda and to ensure quality provision of early learning and childcare (Western Isles)
Several returns referenced the Scottish Government National Outcomes: 'Our children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed'; and 'We have improved the life chances for children, young people and families at risk'.
Several also referenced the stretch aims laid out by the Early Years Collaborative.
CPPs gave details of the numerous and varied specific outcomes or priorities being used to deliver the high-level outcomes. These included:
- Focussing activity on specific age ranges
- Targets for accessing health care / check-ups
- Targets for developmental milestones
- Targets for access to early learning and child care
- Enabling access to physical activity and play
- Enabling access to services
- Increased community engagement
- Increased outreach
- Work on capacity building with parents
- Provision of parenting programmes
A small number of the many different examples provided by CPPs include:
West Lothian: We have a broad and diverse set of outcomes across the CPP for our local activity. For young mothers as an example, a decrease in infant mortality and morbidity, decreased subsequent births to women under the age of 20, continued engagement with education and training, reduced exposure to domestic and sexual violence, reduced problematic use of alcohol and other drugs, improved mental well-being, reduced poverty, and secure attachment of children and primary caregivers. The longer term outcomes will include decreased number of children whose names require to be placed on the Child Protection Register, improved developmental trajectories for our most vulnerable children, improved school attendance, sustained positive destinations when leaving school, reduced poverty and need for services.
Inverclyde: Physical Activity and Play. These two key change areas will be a focus for the Nurturing Inverclyde Collaborative for Early Years over the next few years. Physical Activity and Play are both key in improving children's outcomes and development, in Inverclyde a couple of projects have recently been established both of which will monitor and measure the processes that are required to ensure all children benefit and the outcomes for the children who participate. The Lets Play Port Glasgow is working from Rainbow Family Centre and Physical Activity in Early Years is being implemented in both Glenbrae and Hillend Family Centres.
CPPs were asked to say how the impact of their activity will be measured, including what indicators, milestones and targets have been set and how the CPP will identify whether the change is an improvement.
As noted above, many of the outcomes detailed in returns were medium or long-term and in several cases changed little over the three years. This was also the case for returns relating to measurement, as the indicators used to measure outcomes also link to longer term strategic plans such as the SOA. Indeed, many of the CPPs reported that mechanisms, including outcome measures and indicators and performance indicators, are linked to, or set out in, their SOA, ICSP and/or other strategic plans, including Dundee: Our reporting measures are intrinsically linked to Dundee's Integrated Children's Services Plan and SOA within which we have established a wide set of indicators targets and outcome.
Several CPPs also reported that indicators and milestones have been set in line with the EYC stretch aims, for example: The Children's Services Plan has included the EYC stretch aims in defining our indicators against which to measure the impact of the plan along with other CS outcome indicators (Fife).
In addition, CPPs reported a wide range of mechanisms designed to measure specific local outcomes and activity and this included East Renfrewshire: The Collaborative Stretch Aims are the main focus of our measurement work. However, these are Authority wide indicators and we are keen to track progress at a local level. Given our focus on supportive, asset focused ways of working we are keen to develop indicators and milestones that enable us to assess the impact on community wellbeing and resilience. The Change Fund is being used to support the development of a community wide measurement framework to track the impact of EYC related work.
There are, therefore, a large number of indicators, both qualitative and quantitative, in use across the CPPs.
Changes in returns over the three years indicate that measures are being reviewed and revised. Indeed, several of the CPPs reported that measures are subject to review to ensure that they continue to provide the most suitable assessment of performance, including: We will continue to develop new measures to better support our assessment of our performance in achieving the desired outcomes for children and young people and these will be regularly reported to the Children's Partnership via the Strategic Oversight Group (Edinburgh).
CPPs also use a wide range of sources and information gathering methods to provide the hard and soft data needed to measure the impact of their activity. Examples include:
Inverclyde: We are using standardised and published date where and when we can to show that improvement is taking place across Inverclyde, however, many of these nationally published statistics are only available annually or longer such as Poverty Rates, PIPs in Schools, Child Health Assessments, SIMD, DWP records, Child Protection Cases, Teenage Pregnancies, Health Inequality information. Therefore, each of the projects or workstreams mentioned above have their own project charters and measurement plans that will indicate at local or even establishment level the small changes that are leading to improvement.
Edinburgh: Key to measuring progress is getting regular feedback from children, young people and their families about how well we are doing in meeting their needs and in achieving our priorities.
West Dunbartonshire: Within services there are various opportunities for parents to feedback, such as completing satisfaction surveys post engagement with a range of parenting support opportunities. These are followed up to help us understand the impact of participation in parenting support. Parents who participate in small tests of change are also asked to complete evaluations of their experience and outcomes.
In relation to identifying whether the change is an improvement, CPPs use a range of evaluation methods, including measurement against set targets and milestones and strategic-level review:
Argyll and Bute: The Model for Improvement is used to test whether a change has led to an improvement and ensures aims are measurable and state a timescale. This has been particularly effective in testing processes within the Argyll and Bute Family Pathway.
Clackmannanshire: We are working hard through EYC and RAFA to ensure that practitioners are provided the opportunity to use the improvement methodology to measure the impact of small tests of change.
And, again, returns indicate that CPPs are continuing to develop the methods used to measure impact and identify improvement, including Scottish Borders: One of the significant developments in 2015 has been the analysis of the 27 month review data which now covers a 12 month cohort of children. This data set has been analysed at the intermediate data zone level to inform how partners tackle health inequalities.
Actions to achieve outcomes
The wide range of actions and changes undertaken or planned by CPPs to achieve outcomes and improvements ranged from strategic to operational to activities linked to specific groups or projects. Many of the actions reported in returns related to one of the following areas:
- Development of Frameworks to ensure consistency of approach.
- Integration of services or delivery teams.
- Evaluations to decide the future of specific projects and programmes.
- Recruitment of staff, including posts responsible for collecting and processing data or for delivering programmes.
- Staff support and training.
- Increased partnership working.
- Expanding service and/or support provision.
- Investing in new services or provision.
- Implementing flexible models of provision or delivery.
- Improvements to data collection and usage.
- Support for providers or partners; examples included implementing the GIRFEC staged intervention process (Angus) and developing the capacity of voluntary sector partners to support parents (Dundee).
- Seeking accreditation or reaccreditation.
- Ongoing evaluation of provision and commissioned research to inform delivery.
- Information provision and enabling access to information.
- Building capacity.
In 2013/14 and 2014/15, CPPs were asked to provide specific examples of preventative spending  and several commented that much of their early years work, if not all, is focussed on prevention or early intervention, for example: Our early years work is, by its very nature, preventative (Midlothian)
All 32 CPPs were able to provide examples of preventative spending in their areas and in many cases were able to provide different examples in each of their two returns, indicating a widespread and continually expanding focus on prevention.
The following broad headings summarise the main areas of preventative spending reported in returns. Under each heading is one example taken from the many and varied activities reported by CPPs.
Support for parents / outreach support for parents / parenting skills
West Lothian: Families Included Service. This service works intensively and holistically with families who have multiple and complex needs. The service operates an evidence-based family intervention model which assists families to effect positive and sustainable change. The service has been externally evaluated to establish whether this model can effect sustainable change at an earlier opportunity, to avoid accommodation of children at a later date. Of the 23 families whose support was completed between 1.4.15 and 30.9.15:
- 60% of families demonstrated an improvement in their parenting skills.
- 72% of those families who were not already subject to statutory measures of care or referred to the reporter at referral stage, avoided becoming subject to compulsory measures.
- 91% of those families where school attendance or timekeeping were problematic showed an improvement.
- 80% of families whose home conditions were assessed as poor or adequate at the outset demonstrated improvement.
- 68% of families demonstrated an improvement in their overall level of family functioning, as assessed by the professionals involved.
- Of the 14 families we have Police Data for, the number of Police calls outs fell from 62 at entry to 13 at exit and charges fell from 12 to 3.
East Ayrshire: play@home family intervention for children, aged 0-8 years and their families. Play interventions with prisoners at HMP Kilmarnock to support bonding and interaction, including: Life skills courses, play and bonding sessions, Family bookshare programmes and family fun days.
Early support for pregnancy and beyond
Inverclyde: Preventative support for young pregnant women who smoke during pregnancy will impact on reducing the number of still births and babies with low birth weight.
Scottish Borders: Parenting support through universal services has been enhanced to promote attachment focused practice. Improvement methods have been used to design and test and begin to scale up a parenting assessment toolkit for Health visitors and other practitioners working with parents of new born babies.
Support for vulnerable families
East Renfrewshire: Family First. Change Fund monies have been used to support 2.0 FTE 'Family First' workers. These workers support vulnerable families to identify their own assets and to agree shared outcomes that they and the service work towards. The role is an informal one with participation entirely voluntary. Once engaged with families the workers support families to progress towards their own outcomes, advocate on behalf of families to services and support families to develop behaviours and practices that enable them to thrive independently of services. This is a significant area of spend.
East Lothian: Our 'Support from the Start' local community network brings together community and partner agency representatives to develop localised activities and supports for children and families, particularly focussed on reducing health inequalities.
Shetland: Vulnerability Criteria - Helping to identify vulnerable children who 'fall through the cracks' and ensure that they are receiving the support they need, via GIRFEC or whichever method is most suited.
Early learning support / school readiness support
Perth and Kinross: Incredible Years Pre-School Parenting Programme to increase the capacity of eligible parents to reduce behavioural concerns and improve the social skills of their 3 year old. This will increase the 'school readiness' of the child, reduce the likelihood of anti-social behaviour and other social and behavioural concerns in later childhood and adolescence, improve family functioning and reduce parent mental health concerns.
Nurture / transition support
Angus: A nurture group was started in one nursery school with a small number of children. This has been scaled up with nurture groups now running in 14 schools and cosy corners being developed across public and private Early Years and Childcare settings. The overall aim is to support children's social and emotional development & support a positive transition into primary school and beyond. Data gathered from Boxhall profiling shows positive change in children's social & emotional development and staff recognise more positive transitions for the children benefitting from the nurturing approach.
Argyll and Bute: Investment in resources to build emotional literacy and empathy in children in the early years through implementing the PAThS programme in an increasing number of ELCC (both local authority and partner provider) settings across Argyll and Bute. This compliments the Scottish Government's investment in the Roots of Empathy programme, which has been delivered in partnership with Health and Early Years Service to 10 primary schools. Targets are to deliver PAThS in 35% of ELCC settings and Roots of Empathy in 12 primary classes in Argyll and Bute by the end of June 2016. As a result of this preventative spend, it is anticipated that there will be less children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties requiring additional support in later years.
Language and literacy
Clackmannanshire: The therapist operates 4 sessions per week
over 2 days.
The aim to date has been to enable those involved with vulnerable children in
the early years to work together to maximise children's language and social development in order to promote later literacy and communication skills.
The objectives of the work are: Preventing- by raising awareness of 'normal' language development, encouraging joint working and helping parents to enjoy developing their child's language in a fun way, the project will reduce the numbers of children who require specialist help. This should, therefore, prevent difficulties with language and literacy in later years.
Mental health support
North Lanarkshire: Perinatal Mental Health Service. Positive mental health is a key determinant of children's success and engagement in early learning. We are testing services and delivering support to protect children, prevent abuse and support the most vulnerable pregnant mothers and fathers. The improvements have resulted in increased referral to an appropriate service, higher levels of staff awareness, consistent access to assessment and treatment across 6 localities.
East Dunbartonshire: NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde ( NHSGGC) committed non-recurring funding to support East Dunbartonshire Food Co-op to support increase access to healthy food.
Workforce development and training
West Dunbartonshire: We have also invested in extensive training (on specific parenting interventions such as Triple P, Mellow Bumps, Mellow Babies, Incredible Years, Solihull) of frontline workers to ensure a consistency and coherence of approach across all agencies and the third sector.
In 2013/14 and 2014/15, CPPs were asked to provide specific examples of disinvestment, including disinvestment from wider activity beyond the Change Fund that has a bearing on the early years.
In 2014/15, 5 CPPs provided details of savings or preventative spending, rather than examples of investment that had been stopped or re-aligned.
Seven CPPs reported on work undertaken to identify potential areas of disinvestment, or on planned areas of disinvestment. For example, Shetland report that they are carrying out a review to determine if there are areas of duplication where resources may be able to be redirected at other prevention work, e.g. nurture in pre-school settings and primaries .
Twelve CPPs provided information on disinvestment; this was predominantly budget realigned either within early years or, to a lesser extent, from services out-with early years. Areas where disinvestment has taken place, with some examples, have included:
Shifts in spending in order to focus on early intervention and/or prevention: We have shifted some spend in the mainstream Primary sector to focus more specifically on early years and readiness for school and family support. In doing so we have established a new universal Family Support Service aligned to our early years and primary provision with the specific remit of prevention and early intervention (Dundee).
Other examples of redirected funding included:
Perth and Kinross: NHS Tayside has reduced the amount of funding it allocates to smoking cessation and has redirected this to focus on preventing young people from starting to smoke (the ASSIST programme). This will have a positive impact in the more immediate term with fewer pregnant women and their partners smoking, and also in the longer term in respect to improved general health.
Orkney: Funding was previously provided for Third sector counselling services but this was predominantly being spent in the 18 - 25 year bracket. Disinvesting here allowed us to prioritise spend on early years and preventative work.
Email: Steven Fogg, email@example.com