Children in essex get the best start in life. Essex County Council Commissioning Strategy 2014-2018. Version: consultation draft. People involved in this strategy Lead Commissioner Chris Martin - Director for Integrated Commissioning and Vulnerable People
get the best start in life
Essex County Council Commissioning Strategy
Version: consultation draft
Lead Commissioner Chris Martin - Director for Integrated Commissioning and Vulnerable People
Supporting Commissioners Stav Yiannou - Head of Commissioning; Education and Lifelong Learning
Tim Coulson - Director for Commissioning; Education and Lifelong Learning
Ros Dunn - Director for Economic Growth and Communities
Lead Members Cllr Dick Madden - Cabinet Member for Children and Families
Cllr Ray Gooding - Cabinet Member for Education
Officers Benjamin Mann – Senior Policy and Strategy Advisor, Lynne Taylor – Commissioning Support Manager, Helen Gregory – Senior Commissioning Support Officer, Jane Richards – Assistant Director of Public Health, Zoe Bloomfield – Information and Analysis, Richard Blakey – Head of Finance (People), Sarah Studd – Commercial, Pippa Everett – PBI, Jacqui Wells - IS, Donna Mair – Transformation Support Unit, Trudi Bishop – EYCC Commissioner for Workforce Development and Training, Liz Norton – EYFS Strategy Manager, Quality Improvement, Carolyn Terry – EYCC Commissioner for Sustainability and Sufficiency, Clare Corrigan – Lead for Partnership Delivery, Alastair Gibbons – Director for Local Delivery, Duncan Taylor – Commissioning Intelligence Manager
Public Office Ruth Kennedy
The Strategy is made up of two sections. The first looks at Indicator Group A relating to Early Years attainment the second section looks at Indicator Group B which align more closely to work being undertaken to address Child Poverty. As such the format of the report is duplicated across the two sections with a final Risk Analysis and Finance slide to cover both sections.
The Commissioning Strategy for – ‘Children In Essex Get The Best Start In Life’ will contribute towards delivering the strategic aspirations included within the Essex Children, Young People and Families Partnership Plan (CYPFPP) 2013-2016 and the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Essex 2013-2018. Both of these documents recognise the importance of providing as much support as possible during the early years of a child’s life. The collective value of these documents is best summarised by the leading statement of intent found within the Children, Young People and Families Partnership Plan.
‘At Essex County Council we want to do all we can to support all children, young people and their families to reach their full potential. We have high aspirations for all children and young people . We want them to grow up safe, happy and healthy, able to make the best use of their skills to secure good employment opportunities and make the most of their lives.’
It is important that this strategy document remains responsive to the changing needs of children and families in Essex. By supporting children and their families from conception through birth and the early years (up to the end of the Foundation Stage) of their life will give all children the best possible opportunity to succeed, thrive and have fun at school and be able to make a positive contribution throughout their lives.
In February 2014, Essex County Council (ECC) adopted a new Corporate Outcomes Framework – a statement of ambition setting out the seven outcomes that would guide it’s activity into 2018. This strategy has been developed to cover the period 2014/15 – 2017/18 but it is envisaged that this remains a live, working document that informs the strategic commissioning of the Local Authority. The commissioning strategy will remain flexible and responsive, taking on board the outcomes of the current strategic review of Early Years and Childcare in Essex through future iterations.
Looking more broadly the strategy will continue to reflect the changing national landscape and the convergence of Early Years and School education with particular focus on School Readiness, the Early Years Foundation Stage and high quality transitions. As such this strategy partners the Education and Lifelong Learning Strategy to take a holistic view of support, intervention and work with families from conception through to the age of 18 or 25 where there is a Special Educational Need and/or Disability)
The Strategy is underpinned by the fact that proposed actions must be aligned to available resources and that resources are likely to be reduced as the Council seeks to close the current budget gap for 2015/16 and 2016/17. Within this strategy can be found actions against which we expect to deliver improved outcomes for children and families at reduced cost. These include the transfer of Health Visiting as part of the 0-5 Healthy Child Programme from 2015 and the potential for consolidation with the 5-19 Healthy Child Programme.
There is some indication within this strategy of those actions that form a higher priority than others. The key priority action is the broad review of Early Years in Essex. As such future iterations of this strategy that follow the Early Years Review will deliver greater prioritisation of activity in order to support future resource allocation.
It is important that commissioned services remain accountable, represent value for money and can clearly contribute to the strategic and financial position of the Local Authority over the next four years. Likewise it is important that performance indicators relating to the delivery of the Corporate Outcomes and this strategy remain benchmarks for performance rather than targets to which services are held accountable. What we must achieve is to realise our vision of success.
The indicators that have been determined aim to highlight the extent to which Children in Essex are getting the best start in life. These include measures of development determined at the end of the Foundation Stage (Good Level of Development and School Readiness). By analysing data at this point we can make changes to those elements where ECC has an influence. We can consider the way that early years education and health services are delivered in order to continue improving the readiness of children in Essex to start school and we can work with parents and carers through Nurseries, Children’s Centres and Schools to offer them the support, information and advice.
The second set of indicators have been chosen to give a picture of other influences on children in Essex such as where they are living and whether they have a settled home environment that will enable them to feel safe, secure and to develop positively. These indicators help us determine where we need to invest more resources in order to change lives and help children and families to succeed and also where we can reduce activity, or completely decommission, in order to ensure that the most effective services can be provided for within an environment of reducing financial resources.
These indicators overlap with the Local Authorities work with partners to describe and address Child Poverty through the Child Poverty Strategy 2014-2017. There will be an alignment between the actions within this Commissioning Strategy and the principles and approaches taken to address Child Poverty.
Whilst these are the primary indicators there will be a number of proxy measures or outputs that we can take a view on and that will provide some indication of the direction of travel in relation to the indicators above. These may include:-
Taking the County as a whole, Essex was in the top 21% least deprived local government areas in the 2010 Indices of Multiple Deprivation. In contrast; at district level, Harlow and Tendring are amongst the most deprived 21% and 25% areas nationally. Whilst Basildon and Tendring Districts contain two-thirds of the most deprived areas in Essex most other districts have notable pockets of deprivation. Except for Brentwood, Uttlesford and Maldon, all districts in Essex have Lower Super Output Areas (LSOA) or small geographic areas falling within the 20% most deprived nationally. Essex is working closely with District Councils in Harlow, Basildon and Tendring to provide intensive, targeted support packages to improve outcomes for young children.
A decision has been taken within Essex County Council to define readiness for school through interpretation of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile undertaken by all children at the end of the Reception Year. School Readiness will be determined on entry to Key Stage 1 of the National Curriculum and will be a retrospective measure of the three Prime Areas of Learning and Development which include Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development and Communication and Language. 1 Readiness for school will be determined by figures for all three Prime Areas remaining above the National Average. As a progressive Local Authority, year on year improvement will be expected although variation in influences across the three prime areas is based on a complex combination of early childhood education and care both within the formal childcare environment as well as in the home.
How do we define the percentage of children achieving a good level of development by the age of five?
What good level of development by the age of five?we know?
We have a strong background in consulting with families who access services and in particular, early years services and Children’s Centres are at the forefront of this work. Essex County Council has undertaken a number of consultation activities with families, lead bodies and partners to seek their views on the focus and possible shape of future Children’s Centre Services. These include a recent Children’s Centre Family Survey (2013)
Research shows that what happens in the first two years of a child life has a significant bearing on their future. From the Field Report in 2010, further developed through 1001 Critical Days in 2014 we know that parents play the most significant role in influencing their children’s futures. Research also tells us that a combination of positive parenting and a good home learning environment can transform children’s life chances. Graham Allen’s report in 2011 and the continuing work of the Early Intervention Foundation show us that that evidence based programmes are the most successful in improving outcomes for vulnerable children. Early intervention is essential. Whether it is advice on smoking in pregnancy or breastfeeding, parenting or child development, if we provide access to early help for families with children at the place and point of need we will prevent escalation and improve the outcomes of the child.
Building on the EPPE study, the Nutbrown Review in 2012 made clear links between the quality of provision in Early Years and children’s outcomes making the correlation between the qualifications and aspirations of the workforce and the quality of Early Childhood Education. More recently there has been a levelling of the requirements placed upon schools and early years provision as determined by Ofsted with the expectation that standards of Early Years teaching provide safe, high quality childcare that meets the needs of all children and does not allow any to fall through the net.
If we want children in Essex to be ready for school we need to do more to intervene early in support of children with delayed speech, language and communication. Research shows that speech, language and communication are crucial for reading, learning in school, for socialising and making friends, and for understanding and controlling emotions or feelings, these are the very building block for School Readiness. Our approach needs to be an co-ordinated and consistent through integration of health and education resources where front line Early Years and community health practitioners are confident to refer children for support and there is support and training for parents.
Where we need to know more
In addition to our consultation with families and service users we appreciate that we still do not have all the answers with regard to what families want and need in order to to feel supported or how different families may require different interventions at varying stages in the life of their children or in particular areas of the County. Essex County Council will continue to use internal engagement teams and external insight to inform future iterations of this strategy and provide intelligence to inform our commissioning decisions which will be vital in the context of reducing funding in 2015-2016
It is vital to ECC that we develop sophisticated mechanisms for capturing local family accounts in relation to how the services they access, including Children’s Centres, Daycare settings, child-minders, pre-schools and Health services, support them. We need to establish some qualitative baselines. What is the level of parental awareness in relation to school readiness? How does it link into the requirements for ECC and daycare settings to promote effective home learning? What more can Children’s Centres do to promote effective home learning? What are the true impacts on a family of having no secure employment or tenancy? How effective is transition between home and nursery and between nursery and school?
More than consultation, genuine engagement with Children, Young People and Families will form the golden thread that runs through all that we do in our pursuit of better outcomes for children and delivery of the corporate objectives. Only by really understanding the issues for children, young people and families, by knowing what they think, what they want, what upsets them, what angers them and what they aspire to, can we really ensure services meet those needs. We want to go further and to work collaboratively with parents and carers to build an ethnographic evidence base and a genuine understanding of their needs as service users. A richness of everyday experience that has sufficient depth to inform future commissioning decisions and to deliver co-designed activity that has been developed and shaped by children and families.
What does success look like good level of development by the age of five??
Essex is currently in the top quartile for Early Years Foundation Stage Profile results which should be noted as a significant turn around from 2012. This reflects the Private, Voluntary and Independent Sector provision across Essex where quality has been in the top quartile for some years. This needs to be recognised as part of the journey for turning the curve and it may be useful to further undertake work with stakeholders to analyse information behind this (including OFSTED reports over a period of time) with a sample of settings to establish the evidence base for what is working well. The EYFSP results provide part of the overall picture of quality and need to be considered alongside Ofsted inspection outcomes to give a more holistic picture of quality.
Early Years feel of the support that they access and by Review
The strategic union that has been formed between the Local Authority and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) is one of the key factors in creating the right conditions for a broad reaching and ambitious review of Early Years in Essex. This is a unique opportunity and one that will fully utilise the combined organisational strength and expertise to develop an innovative approach to meeting local needs and really involving families in the design and development of their own, community based support.
The review will use national and international research and best practice to consider how best to re-model the Early Years workforce and corresponding finances to develop an integrated Early Years and early help offer from pre-birth through to school.
Working in collaboration with CCGs there are opportunities to be truly innovative and to remove duplication. Opportunities to better understand funding and resources, both those in scope for the review and those that may exist within complimentary areas of health and education in order to achieve value for money and determine what quality looks like in terms of outcomes for children. There is the scope to develop a shared understanding of child development and school readiness across the spectrum of early years practitioners and to look at how best to utilise specialist targeted interventions and highly trained health professionals to improve outcomes for children.
The diagram in Fig.3 identifies the scope of the Early Years Review and the key consideration including finance, workforce, research , needs assessment and engagement.
Work in all of these areas is underway and will combine to inform the review. Some of the most exciting and innovative work is developing from the strategic review of engagement with families and children. Through the use of ethnography, commissioners will be able to access a far richer and more informed picture of what impacts on the day to day life of families in Essex and gain a deeper appreciation of how to design effective fig.3 Early Years Review Process Map support alongside parents and carers.
The opportunity to place children and families at the centre of a model of integrated support and early help will drive thinking during this far reaching review and will have significant influence over the strategic actions taken forward through this strategy at the point where final actions are determined.
17 feel of the support that they access and by
The following section represents a series of critical actions that will drive forward the strategy for – Children in Essex get the Best Start in life, specifically in relation to Indicator Group A.
Actions have been ragged according to the time period for delivery. Actions ragged Green are already underway. Actions raggedAmberwill commence within 3 to 6 months and actions ragged Red will be delivered within 6 to 12 months.
19 feel of the support that they access and by
20 feel of the support that they access and by
21 feel of the support that they access and by
22 feel of the support that they access and by
23 feel of the support that they access and by
24 feel of the support that they access and by
25 feel of the support that they access and by
What is currently happening in Essex?
Number of households living in temporary accommodation in Essex
(LGA 2014) Then number of households living in temporary
accommodation - A simple count of households living in temporary
accommodation provided under the homelessness legislation
Families with Children living in Bed and Breakfast (DCLG 2013)
Office of National Statistics - Workless Households for Regions across the UK (2012)
Local Authority and ward level statistics for most major benefits relating to worklessness
Fig.5 What success might look like for a parent in Essex
Who do we need to work with? works is reducing across Essex.
The focus on partners has been kept purposefully broad and is not an exhaustive list.
- works is reducing across Essex.
36 works is reducing across Essex.
What are we doing to support children in Essex?
Actions have been ragged according to the time period for delivery. Actions ragged Green are already underway. Actions raggedAmberwill commence within 3 to 6 months and actions ragged Redwill be delivered within 6 to 12 months.
37 works is reducing across Essex.
Risks and works is reducing across Essex. Mitigations
- Risks are events or actions that may prevent us from successfully supporting children to have the best start in life
- Mitigation is the action we will take to reduce the impact that any risks identified will have on our success
What are the costs of the actions proposed works is reducing across Essex. ?
Alleviating Child Poverty
The Council does not currently have direct budgets in place to support children and their families in temporary accommodation. Therefore any additional funding required to deliver direct support would have to be seen in the context of the Council’s funding gap that needs to be closed from 2015/16 onwards.
Many of the actions against this indicator are influential activities rather than ones that require a sustainable investment. It is assumed that these activities will be able to be contained within existing budgets and how we seek to influence stakeholders will depend on budgets available as the Council seeks to identify ways in which it can close its funding gap.
This report has been prepared by works is reducing across Essex.
Essex County Council’s Place/People Commissioning and STC functions.
Essex County Council,
PO Box 11, County Hall, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1QH