Description of the Project

 

According to GOV.UK (2014) that
there is an overwhelming number of families who are seeking a high-quality,
targeted services. Based on their report, Children’s Centres are reaching over
90% of families most in need. The data shows that the centres are showing their
best and are effective in reaching out to families and other service users in
need. The former Minister of Education and Childcare Elizabeth Truss quoted “The
governments’ clear that children’s centres have a vital role to play in making
sure 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 of
what providers must do. They should  ‘work
in partnership with parents and/or carers, to promote the learning and
development 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’s
development by following the EYFS guidelines to benefit the child’s future needs
(Department of Education 2017).

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With the growing demand for service, the local government in Hillingdon
with the effort of their Early Inclusion Team work together with the Speech and
Language Therapy Service, they collaboratively develop a practical approach to
help parents to learn the skills needed to support their children with Speech
Language Communication Needs (SCLN). The Language for Life Session is a programme
that is designed to support and promote children’s speech and language
development because of the effectiveness and practicality of the program to all
service user (parents and children), since then, it was established as one of
the services available in the health pathways and Children’s Centres
(Foundation Years 2015).

 

The program begins with each
Children’s Centre assigned a ‘project lead’ who will join an accredited speech
and language course, Elklan (https://elklantraining.worldsecuresystems.com/), and other short courses in helping parents to discuss
child development. The project lead joins a speech therapy session in child
assessment where they can able to learn various techniques, strategies and
activities used by speech and language therapists. The lead develops skills in
‘modelling’ and ‘teaching language development to parents. At the end of the
course, they will be provided with a ‘six-week curriculum pack’ to assist them
in organising the ‘Language for Life’ programme together with parents. Every
session, parents will be able to observe and learn how their child communicates
and to know the support they should provide to help develop their child’s
needs. By working together with the Children’s Centre lead, each parent will be
provided with a developmental plan which
suits their child’s assessment. The parents will be hands-on to practice it during the session and even at home. Parents
have an opportunity to give feedback on the development and effectiveness of
the learning targets given to them (Foundation Years 2015).

 

Based on the report, 90% of
children who joined in the programme has been assessed higher achievement
compared to the other developmental assessment tool. Because of the positive
outcome, 17 out of 18 Children’s Centre are providing the service to the
community. Every session has accommodated between 3-6 families with a strong commitment to the programme. In
addition, more families are joining in other Children’s Centre activities and
services (Foundation Years 2015).

 

Theoretical Perspective

 

In
this evaluation proposal, I will be using the ‘Social Capital Model’ which will
give a clearer picture on how the institutions (service providers) could
connect to the community (service users) to have effective collaboration. Living in a modern society, we face a lot
of challenges dealing with our day-to-day activities thinking how are we going
to start and end our day with full satisfaction. As an individual, I cannot
operate and live just by myself. I need people who could share my likes and
dislikes, a family which I could count in
times of trials, neighbours where I could mingle and a community to share
significant opportunities. But because of the increase in cultural and social
heterogeneity (the quality of being diverse and not comparable in kind), we face hurdles to meet our respective
expectations and values with positive effect. This concept was presented by
Putman (2007) about the significance of a more diverse, multicultural society
for ‘social capital’. He emphasised that social capital comes in many forms,
not just any services that can be interchanged
with others for satisfying their
obligation. He stressed that not all social networks have exactly the same
effects, whereas, networks can really affect our ability to get things
effectively, but there is no assurance to be socially beneficial if we depend
solely through networks. This might be controversial when we connect diversity
and the success of the collaborative work of the community and local authority,
but then, people who reside in a diverse
community have a tendency to withdraw from collective life, to distrust their neighbours,
regardless of their ethnicity and even from close friends, to expect worst from
their community.

 The big question
is, how can we be comfortable in diversity? we are living in a cultural-diverse
community. We are taught by social psychologists and sociologist that if we are
living in a lesser social distance it is easier for us to trust one another,
built confidence and create a feeling of
common identity, closeness and common experiences.  In contrast, when the social distance is
great, community distinguish and treat others as different. However, he pointed
that some evidence implies that if levels of social capital are greater, instances
of ‘children grow up healthier, safer and better educated, people live longer,
happier lives, and democracy and the
economy work better’ (Putnam 2000, Section IV cited Putnam 2007). In addition, he
also highlighted ‘trust’ as an important component of social capital (Putnam et al. 1993, p.170 cited Scrivens and
Smith 2013).

 

Studies
show that people who participate in the
planning of the community services provide positive and effective impact to
meet the needs of the community. When treating the people (service users) as
‘partners’ it will create a strong foundation that such locally based
partnership initiatives ‘ensure the social stability and cohesion without which
economic growth and structural adjustment will be obstructed’ (Bagley and Ackerley
2006). In this sense, decisions related to the needs of the local community is
not only taken from ‘professionals’ own perspectives but also from people
(parents) who involved in the service
provided by the local authority.  This is
important not only to encourage service users to work collaboratively but also
to improve their quality of life. I understand that when the community will
cooperate with the local authority it will be an advantage to them to get the
services that they need. Also, when we involve ourselves to be part of the community it will give us confidence and
trust in the local authority. Furthermore,
civic engagement will create a strong
relationship with the local
community, the reputation on one another will result in trust and people are
more likely to behave accordingly. We need to be ‘active and involved’ members of the society, there is more social value in working
together with local agencies (Putnam cited Scrivens and Smith 2013). Additionally,
there are people in the community who possess positive mindset when it comes to
collaborative working. This trait will provide an impact towards achieving a
certain goal, together with empowerment even few individuals could make things
happen. It will also make a ripple effect for others to collaborate, ‘overcome passive and active resistance to
change, and remove organisational obstacles to progress’ (Freeth 2001).

 

Research Questions

 

For this section, I would like to
highlight the significance of inter-professional working in developing an
effective service to the parents, which are the service users. Also, the
parents’ roles to achieve the objectives of the programme. The theoretical
perspective has given us the concept that despite having a multi-cultural and
socially diverse society we could still attain our aims by actively involved within
the community. By multi-agency working, it
improves the service delivery not only that it also impacts the professionals,
service users, and on agencies. In this manner, professionals have positive view
of multi-agency work ‘being rewarding and
stimulating, increased knowledge and understanding of other agencies, and
improved relationships and communication between agencies’. Service users will
benefit the access to services, it would be lesser hustle and appropriate
referral, and a better focus on prevention and early intervention. While agencies
develop more positive ‘interagency relationships and benefited from improved
communication between agencies’ (Atkinson et
al. 2007).

 

In view of the literature above, the following research
questions have been formulated:  

 

How do the
Children’s Centre and service users work collaboratively in the course of the
‘Language in Life’ programme?

 

This question will evaluate the partnership of the
parents and professionals towards meeting their objectives. It will also be
going to assess the centre’s approach to connect with their service users. It
will investigate on how knowledgeable the service users on their roles. There are evidence
indicate misunderstanding between the parents-relatives and health
professionals having different aims for the child. Even parents-relatives feel
that they are excluded from the process of the treatment (Rose 1997 cited Jakobsen
and Severinson 2006). It is emphasised that highly
qualified 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’ (Jakobsen
and Severinson 2006). In addition, when service providers are showing a positive attitude and encourage parents to
participate in the process of their children’s’ development it will increase
their confidence. In contrast, when the service providers are impassive to the
family’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 the
factors that make inter-professional working
effective and beneficial to the ‘Language in Life’ programme?

 

This question will find the reasons why multi-agency work
could 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 ‘professional
endeavour’, whereas it is a ‘human process’. Interagency professionals may not fully
cooperate if all of the efforts will be just for the service users’ advantages.
It is reasoned out that many other factors affect the framework of
collaboration. On the other hand, many service users claimed to receive
insufficient service from different professionals due to lack of communication and
cooperation (London Borough of Greenwich, 1987; DDoH 1994 cited Freeth 2001). It encourages interprofessional and multi-agency
collaborative working to minimize further incidence in the future (Home Office
1991; Lowe and O’Harra, 2000 cited Freeth 2001). It will also provide information from the different
professional perspective based on each role and background. It will help to find
a 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 speech
and language therapist, health visitor, and early years professionals who are
assigned to check Uxbridge Children
Centre. One
on one semi-structured interview will be used to collect the data which will be
audio recorded. It is recommended by Harrell and Bradley (2009) that semi-structured
interviews are frequently used to have an in-depth investigation into the
research and to carefully understand the answers given by the participants. There
will be two different sets of interview questionnaire which based on the research questions, the first, is for the Children
Centre’s project and parents. While the second set is for the multi-agency
professionals. It will be conducted in the centre’ meeting room.  Ideally, one participant will be scheduled
each day but if there will be additional
time and other participants are willing to be interviewed on that day, then they will be catered. In the timetable, it will be suitably organized in
order to provide a convenient schedule to
all parents and professionals.

 

The projected timescale of the of
the data collection will be arranged for 2 weeks. The interviews will be carried
out every after each class session of the programme to fit the participants’
availability.  

 

One of the significant ethical
issues that may occur in the evaluation is the status of the individual who
will be part research. A change of policy was implemented by the British
Psychological Society (1193 cited Wolfendale 1999) that a person involves in the research should no longer be
called ‘subjects or even ‘objects’ but the term ‘participant’ or ‘co-researcher’
is way better and carry out a sympathetic meaning. It also produces a better
sense 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 and
talking to parents about the service. Also, the access to the children’s data should follow appropriate procedure. Thus, there
is a stern consideration in gathering the data regarding children’s sensitivity
issues. There should be a presence of constant respect throughout the procedure
that may affect any racial-ethnical or social concerns. Moreover, besides
getting the consents from the professionals, there are instances that additional
consent should be required from the centre’s management committee and specific departmental
heads from the local authority that may have concern for conducting the study. In
addition, Wolfendale (1999) stressed that it is very important to consider the personal
and private aspects of the participant that might influence or compromise the
process of the research and the ‘researcher-researchee
relationship’.  The parents and their children,
and professional’s identities would be kept confidential and they would have
the 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, both
parents and the professionals are unwilling to take part in the interview.
Participants may have difficulty in arranging their convenient schedule
especially for parents who have most of their time with their children as well
as the multiagency professionals who have a specific
time frame to visit the centre. It may be discomfort for other professionals
considering the loss of time in their work hours. There is also a concern that
participants will not show up on the day of the interviews. Organizing
timetable should be prepared to provide convenient appointment to all
participants,

 

Analysis Methods

 

The data from the interviews comprise of the parents and the
centre’s project lead perspective towards a successful partnership. In
addition, it also includes the view of professionals that are involved in the
programme 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 and
labelled according to the criteria being evaluated. The audio recording of the interview will be transcribed even
though it will be time-consuming it will
be the best way to familiarize the data collected (Riesmman, 1993 cited by
Braun and Clarke 2006). It will give us a clearer
understanding of the early stages
of analysis. Furthermore, the transcript will be double checked back again from
the original audio recordings for ‘accuracy’ (Braun and Clarke 2006).
Afterward, I will produce initial codes which could help organize significant
groups from my data (Tucket 2005 cited by Braun and Clarke 2006). I will be
using IBM SPSS Statistics 23, which the university provided a free software, to help me code the data. The next
procedure will be searching for themes, I will be using mind maps to help me
organize and come up with suitable themes to defined
and named.

 

The outcome of the analysis could give us the standpoint of the
parents and the centres about their obligation to support the children’s needs through the ‘Language for Life’ program. It
will provide clearer understanding that even though social diversity is present
as one of the challenges in collaborative working it would not become a
significant reason to achieve the programme’s objectives. Furthermore, the data
will enable to deliver a resolution for interagency professional’s issues in
regard to collaborative working and give emphasis to promote empowerment to
multi-agency. The effort of this evaluation is to present the importance of
mutual understanding between the service providers and the community.
Multicultural society could hinder the success in improving the quality of service
among local authorities, nevertheless, in
a society who proactively collaborative to each other,
it will result in a higher social value.  

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