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Interagency Perspectives Opportunities and Challenges in Working Together.

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Presentation on theme: "Interagency Perspectives Opportunities and Challenges in Working Together."— Presentation transcript:

1 Interagency Perspectives Opportunities and Challenges in Working Together

2 Overview What we did What was going well What helped and what hindered collaboration Implications for the future: Children’s Centres

3 Introduction Policy focus on partnerships Government’s concern to address issues that span organisational and professional boundaries

4 Why Process? Pragmatic: outcomes in the long term, decisions in the short-term Problems isolating and attributing costs to ‘value-added’ by joint working Negative outcomes from poor collaboration To understand the processes of joint working : HOW positive outcomes are achieved

5 Difficulties in Measuring Outcomes ‘It is difficult to know what the key driver has been when outcomes are achieved. You know that certain services and activities will contribute but not what their sole contribution has been or whether they are tied up with a package.’ County Durham practitioner

6 What We Did Three Sure Start Local Programmes From late 2003 to summer practitioners involved in total Interviewed 35 professionals (managers and practitioners) from partner agencies, including health, social services, education, district councils and voluntary sector service providers 4 group discussions with a further 16 frontline practitioners

7 Working Together: What Has Gone Well Demonstrating the effectiveness of involving parents Capacity building in communities, improving the links between local people and services Improvements in collaboration in planning and service delivery Sharing knowledge and skills across agencies and professions Opportunities to innovate

8 Successful Joint Working Programme 1: combined Sure Start and Sports Action Zone initiatives Programme 2: domestic violence advice circle Programme 3: sharing skills and supporting speech and language development

9 Opportunities and Challenges in Working Together Themes from the findings Organisational issues Contextual issues Cultural and professional issues

10 Organisational Issues Aims and Objectives Roles and Responsibilities Communication Location Resources

11 Aims and Objectives Common purpose Supporting families in under-resourced areas, to improve the life chances of children, and widening access to services Commitment to long term goals But concern about Objectives ‘bolted on’ by government Focus on what’s easily measured, rather than long term qualitative outcomes

12 Roles and Responsibilities Clarity Universal principles and meeting low level support needs Preventative approach of SSLPs, no longer the ‘core business’ of mainstream agencies. Confusion The role of the Sure Start Family Support Worker or Early Years Practitioner Responsibilities for child protection

13 Communication What helped Regular, well run meetings and development groups; practitioners share information, ideas and concerns Consistent attendance Newsletters and bulletins Joint training and consultation events Opportunities for informal and face-to face contact What hindered Slow development of shared information systems Differences in protocols about access and confidentiality Lack of routine sharing of information about families Duplication and gaps in provision

14 Location Shared office accommodation Opportunities to work from a common base Close location Personal contact and relationships improved communication, sharing resources and led to some joint initiatives

15 Resources Positive Perceptions Sure Start sharing resources with other agencies: buildings, admin support/ IT expertise and helping to fill gaps and provide cover Sharing skills and knowledge and supporting other practitioners, for cost effective use of resources. Concerns Use of new money on publicity and promotional activities Turnover and shortages of skilled practitioners Sure Start exacerbating the recruitment and retention problems of mainstream agencies

16 Contextual Issues in Darlington and Durham Boundaries: post-codes and age limits Political climate: implementation overload, restricts management resources available for ‘partnerships’ Constant re-organisation: changing personnel and uncertainty Financial insecurity: worries about the future of jobs and services, waste and cost shunting between organisations

17 Cultural and Professional Issues Likely to support Trust and respect between managers and practitioners of mainstream agencies and SSLPs Pre-existing relationships Shared values May cause tension Differences in priorities, resources not targeted Voluntary nature of Sure Start Universal nature of Sure Start

18 Reservations about Future Developments Mainstream professionals expressed concern about: The continuation of ‘post-code’ discrimination The revenue implications, including funding day care The imposition of objectives that may alienate the families they are trying to reach The pace of change before initiatives are ‘bedded in’ Threats to current good practice and established partnerships The implications for the recruitment and retention of skilled staff

19 Implications for Children’s Centres Mainstream agencies already recognise the value of working across organisational boundaries Joint working and regular contact has contributed to the development of trust, respect between practitioners and a greater understanding of each others’ roles and responsibilities SSLPs have laid a foundation of positive experiences of joint working to build on Support in principle for the Children’s Centre model, particularly shared bases and shared information systems


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