Description of the Project According to GOV.UK (2014) thatthere is an overwhelming number of families who are seeking a high-quality,targeted services. Based on their report, Children’s Centres are reaching over90% of families most in need. The data shows that the centres are showing theirbest and are effective in reaching out to families and other service users inneed.
The former Minister of Education and Childcare Elizabeth Truss quoted “Thegovernments’ clear that children’s centres have a vital role to play in makingsure families get the help they need by offering a wide range of local,flexible services so they can choose what works best for their family.” Based on the statutory guidance of Early years (under 5s)foundation stage framework (EYFS), Section 1 provides clear role description ofwhat providers must do. They should ‘workin partnership with parents and/or carers, to promote the learning anddevelopment of all children in their, and to ensure they are ready for school’.
Thus, early years providers must monitor and ensure the success of the child’sdevelopment by following the EYFS guidelines to benefit the child’s future needs(Department of Education 2017). With the growing demand for service, the local government in Hillingdonwith the effort of their Early Inclusion Team work together with the Speech andLanguage Therapy Service, they collaboratively develop a practical approach tohelp parents to learn the skills needed to support their children with SpeechLanguage Communication Needs (SCLN). The Language for Life Session is a programmethat is designed to support and promote children’s speech and languagedevelopment because of the effectiveness and practicality of the program to allservice user (parents and children), since then, it was established as one ofthe services available in the health pathways and Children’s Centres(Foundation Years 2015).
The program begins with eachChildren’s Centre assigned a ‘project lead’ who will join an accredited speechand language course, Elklan (https://elklantraining.worldsecuresystems.com/), and other short courses in helping parents to discusschild development. The project lead joins a speech therapy session in childassessment where they can able to learn various techniques, strategies andactivities used by speech and language therapists. The lead develops skills in’modelling’ and ‘teaching language development to parents. At the end of thecourse, they will be provided with a ‘six-week curriculum pack’ to assist themin organising the ‘Language for Life’ programme together with parents. Everysession, parents will be able to observe and learn how their child communicatesand to know the support they should provide to help develop their child’sneeds.
By working together with the Children’s Centre lead, each parent will beprovided with a developmental plan whichsuits their child’s assessment. The parents will be hands-on to practice it during the session and even at home. Parentshave an opportunity to give feedback on the development and effectiveness ofthe learning targets given to them (Foundation Years 2015). Based on the report, 90% ofchildren who joined in the programme has been assessed higher achievementcompared to the other developmental assessment tool. Because of the positiveoutcome, 17 out of 18 Children’s Centre are providing the service to thecommunity.
Every session has accommodated between 3-6 families with a strong commitment to the programme. Inaddition, more families are joining in other Children’s Centre activities andservices (Foundation Years 2015). Theoretical Perspective Inthis evaluation proposal, I will be using the ‘Social Capital Model’ which willgive a clearer picture on how the institutions (service providers) couldconnect to the community (service users) to have effective collaboration.
Living in a modern society, we face a lotof challenges dealing with our day-to-day activities thinking how are we goingto start and end our day with full satisfaction. As an individual, I cannotoperate and live just by myself. I need people who could share my likes anddislikes, a family which I could count intimes of trials, neighbours where I could mingle and a community to sharesignificant opportunities. But because of the increase in cultural and socialheterogeneity (the quality of being diverse and not comparable in kind), we face hurdles to meet our respectiveexpectations and values with positive effect. This concept was presented byPutman (2007) about the significance of a more diverse, multicultural societyfor ‘social capital’. He emphasised that social capital comes in many forms,not just any services that can be interchangedwith others for satisfying theirobligation.
He stressed that not all social networks have exactly the sameeffects, whereas, networks can really affect our ability to get thingseffectively, but there is no assurance to be socially beneficial if we dependsolely through networks. This might be controversial when we connect diversityand the success of the collaborative work of the community and local authority,but then, people who reside in a diversecommunity have a tendency to withdraw from collective life, to distrust their neighbours,regardless of their ethnicity and even from close friends, to expect worst fromtheir community. The big questionis, how can we be comfortable in diversity? we are living in a cultural-diversecommunity. We are taught by social psychologists and sociologist that if we areliving in a lesser social distance it is easier for us to trust one another,built confidence and create a feeling ofcommon identity, closeness and common experiences. In contrast, when the social distance isgreat, community distinguish and treat others as different.
However, he pointedthat some evidence implies that if levels of social capital are greater, instancesof ‘children grow up healthier, safer and better educated, people live longer,happier lives, and democracy and theeconomy work better’ (Putnam 2000, Section IV cited Putnam 2007). In addition, healso highlighted ‘trust’ as an important component of social capital (Putnam et al. 1993, p.170 cited Scrivens andSmith 2013).
Studiesshow that people who participate in theplanning of the community services provide positive and effective impact tomeet the needs of the community. When treating the people (service users) as’partners’ it will create a strong foundation that such locally basedpartnership initiatives ‘ensure the social stability and cohesion without whicheconomic growth and structural adjustment will be obstructed’ (Bagley and Ackerley2006). In this sense, decisions related to the needs of the local community isnot only taken from ‘professionals’ own perspectives but also from people(parents) who involved in the serviceprovided by the local authority.
This isimportant not only to encourage service users to work collaboratively but alsoto improve their quality of life. I understand that when the community willcooperate with the local authority it will be an advantage to them to get theservices that they need. Also, when we involve ourselves to be part of the community it will give us confidence andtrust in the local authority. Furthermore,civic engagement will create a strongrelationship with the localcommunity, the reputation on one another will result in trust and people aremore likely to behave accordingly. We need to be ‘active and involved’ members of the society, there is more social value in workingtogether with local agencies (Putnam cited Scrivens and Smith 2013). Additionally,there are people in the community who possess positive mindset when it comes tocollaborative working. This trait will provide an impact towards achieving acertain goal, together with empowerment even few individuals could make thingshappen. It will also make a ripple effect for others to collaborate, ‘overcome passive and active resistance tochange, and remove organisational obstacles to progress’ (Freeth 2001).
Research Questions For this section, I would like tohighlight the significance of inter-professional working in developing aneffective service to the parents, which are the service users. Also, theparents’ roles to achieve the objectives of the programme. The theoreticalperspective has given us the concept that despite having a multi-cultural andsocially diverse society we could still attain our aims by actively involved withinthe community. By multi-agency working, itimproves the service delivery not only that it also impacts the professionals,service users, and on agencies. In this manner, professionals have positive viewof multi-agency work ‘being rewarding andstimulating, increased knowledge and understanding of other agencies, andimproved relationships and communication between agencies’. Service users willbenefit the access to services, it would be lesser hustle and appropriatereferral, and a better focus on prevention and early intervention. While agenciesdevelop more positive ‘interagency relationships and benefited from improvedcommunication between agencies’ (Atkinson etal.
2007). In view of the literature above, the following researchquestions have been formulated: How do theChildren’s Centre and service users work collaboratively in the course of the’Language in Life’ programme? This question will evaluate the partnership of theparents and professionals towards meeting their objectives. It will also begoing to assess the centre’s approach to connect with their service users.
Itwill investigate on how knowledgeable the service users on their roles. There are evidenceindicate misunderstanding between the parents-relatives and healthprofessionals having different aims for the child. Even parents-relatives feelthat they are excluded from the process of the treatment (Rose 1997 cited Jakobsenand Severinson 2006). It is emphasised that highlyqualified professionals could provide a better way in handling parents’concerns in terms of the appropriate approach and understanding compared to those who are ‘less well qualified’ (Jakobsenand Severinson 2006). In addition, when service providers are showing a positive attitude and encourage parents toparticipate in the process of their children’s’ development it will increasetheir confidence. In contrast, when the service providers are impassive to thefamily’s needs and failed to recognize or accept family decision (Rosenbaum et al. 1988; Dunst et al.
1988 cited King et al. 1998). What are thefactors that make inter-professional workingeffective and beneficial to the ‘Language in Life’ programme? This question will find the reasons why multi-agency workcould provide a positive impact on service. It is an argument pointed up by D’Amour et al. (2005) that inter-professional collaborative work is not only a ‘professionalendeavour’, whereas it is a ‘human process’.
Interagency professionals may not fullycooperate if all of the efforts will be just for the service users’ advantages.It is reasoned out that many other factors affect the framework ofcollaboration. On the other hand, many service users claimed to receiveinsufficient service from different professionals due to lack of communication andcooperation (London Borough of Greenwich, 1987; DDoH 1994 cited Freeth 2001).
It encourages interprofessional and multi-agencycollaborative working to minimize further incidence in the future (Home Office1991; Lowe and O’Harra, 2000 cited Freeth 2001). It will also provide information from the differentprofessional perspective based on each role and background. It will help to finda resolution to any issues and dilemma surrounding inter-professional working. Research Methods The potential participants in this research are the centre project lead and 6 parents whose children are enrolled in the programme. A speechand language therapist, health visitor, and early years professionals who areassigned to check Uxbridge ChildrenCentre. Oneon one semi-structured interview will be used to collect the data which will beaudio recorded.
It is recommended by Harrell and Bradley (2009) that semi-structuredinterviews are frequently used to have an in-depth investigation into theresearch and to carefully understand the answers given by the participants. Therewill be two different sets of interview questionnaire which based on the research questions, the first, is for the ChildrenCentre’s project and parents. While the second set is for the multi-agencyprofessionals. It will be conducted in the centre’ meeting room. Ideally, one participant will be scheduledeach day but if there will be additionaltime and other participants are willing to be interviewed on that day, then they will be catered. In the timetable, it will be suitably organized inorder to provide a convenient schedule toall parents and professionals.
The projected timescale of the ofthe data collection will be arranged for 2 weeks. The interviews will be carriedout every after each class session of the programme to fit the participants’availability. One of the significant ethicalissues that may occur in the evaluation is the status of the individual whowill be part research. A change of policy was implemented by the BritishPsychological Society (1193 cited Wolfendale 1999) that a person involves in the research should no longer becalled ‘subjects or even ‘objects’ but the term ‘participant’ or ‘co-researcher’is way better and carry out a sympathetic meaning. It also produces a bettersense of willingness from the people on and with whom research is undertaken. The ethics should be careful to be considered when accessing children’s cases andtalking to parents about the service.
Also, the access to the children’s data should follow appropriate procedure. Thus, thereis a stern consideration in gathering the data regarding children’s sensitivityissues. There should be a presence of constant respect throughout the procedurethat may affect any racial-ethnical or social concerns. Moreover, besidesgetting the consents from the professionals, there are instances that additionalconsent should be required from the centre’s management committee and specific departmentalheads from the local authority that may have concern for conducting the study. Inaddition, Wolfendale (1999) stressed that it is very important to consider the personaland private aspects of the participant that might influence or compromise theprocess of the research and the ‘researcher-researcheerelationship’. The parents and their children,and professional’s identities would be kept confidential and they would havethe right to withdraw before or after and even during the course of the interview. There are several possible concerns about the successful completion of this study.
Firstly, bothparents and the professionals are unwilling to take part in the interview.Participants may have difficulty in arranging their convenient scheduleespecially for parents who have most of their time with their children as wellas the multiagency professionals who have a specifictime frame to visit the centre. It may be discomfort for other professionalsconsidering the loss of time in their work hours. There is also a concern thatparticipants will not show up on the day of the interviews. Organizingtimetable should be prepared to provide convenient appointment to allparticipants, Analysis Methods The data from the interviews comprise of the parents and thecentre’s project lead perspective towards a successful partnership.
Inaddition, it also includes the view of professionals that are involved in theprogramme related to multi-agency collaborative working. In analysing the data, I will be using’Thematic Analysis’ where qualitative data from the interviews will be coded andlabelled according to the criteria being evaluated. The audio recording of the interview will be transcribed eventhough it will be time-consuming it willbe the best way to familiarize the data collected (Riesmman, 1993 cited byBraun and Clarke 2006). It will give us a clearerunderstanding of the early stagesof analysis. Furthermore, the transcript will be double checked back again fromthe original audio recordings for ‘accuracy’ (Braun and Clarke 2006).Afterward, I will produce initial codes which could help organize significantgroups from my data (Tucket 2005 cited by Braun and Clarke 2006).
I will beusing IBM SPSS Statistics 23, which the university provided a free software, to help me code the data. The nextprocedure will be searching for themes, I will be using mind maps to help meorganize and come up with suitable themes to definedand named. The outcome of the analysis could give us the standpoint of theparents and the centres about their obligation to support the children’s needs through the ‘Language for Life’ program. Itwill provide clearer understanding that even though social diversity is presentas one of the challenges in collaborative working it would not become asignificant reason to achieve the programme’s objectives. Furthermore, the datawill enable to deliver a resolution for interagency professional’s issues inregard to collaborative working and give emphasis to promote empowerment tomulti-agency. The effort of this evaluation is to present the importance ofmutual understanding between the service providers and the community.
Multicultural society could hinder the success in improving the quality of serviceamong local authorities, nevertheless, ina society who proactively collaborative to each other,it will result in a higher social value.