Coram Ealing Children Centre Outreach Service

Themes this local practice example relates to:

  • Early Years

Basic details

Organisation submitting example

Coram

Local authority/local area:

Ealing Council


Summary

Coram Ealing Children’s Centre Outreach Service provided a range of services including home visiting, targeted and universal activities to families with children aged under five.  A priority was to improve access for the most excluded groups to Children’s Centre services.

The context and rationale

Background

In September 2009, Coram was commissioned by Ealing Council to set up and deliver an Outreach service which improved access for the most excluded groups to the integrated service offer in Children’s Centres, within the context of a universal service.

At the time, particular issues for Ealing included:

  • a substantial rise in the number of low-income families – in 2007, 37% of Ealing areas were ranked amongst the 20% most deprived nationally compared to 28% in the 2004 indices. (Department for Communities and Local Government, Indices of Deprivation, 2007 and 2004)
  • one of the highest migrant populations in London – the number of people whose previous address was overseas was the highest in the whole of London. (Greater London Authority, 2007).

This project has been taken in house by the London Borough of Ealing (end March 2013) with its volunteering service still commissioned from Coram.

Evidence for the model

The Outreach model was based on the Every Child Matters: Change for Children Joint planning and commissioning national framework for children, young people and maternity services. The findings of the research review (National Foundation for Educational Research 2008) commissioned by the Local Government Association examining what works in narrowing outcomes gaps across the five Every Child Matters areas. The review identified that supporting vulnerable parents to develop their parenting skills had positive impacts on staying healthy and safe, economic well-being and participation outcomes, and also impacted on achievement outcomes. 

  • The summary of evidence from The Sure Start Journey (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2008) summarising the main findings from the Sure Start research programme and, in particular, the recognition that reaching excluded and disadvantaged groups is particularly challenging and time consuming. The evidence suggests that principles of effective practice include:

    • having a strategy to target those who are hard to reach
    • developing a detailed understanding of the local community both through the local authority and through informal local research and knowledge
    • communicating with partner organisations to identify those in need
    • being sensitive to individual circumstances and cultures
    • developing a service that addresses the needs of a wide-range of users.

  • A stakeholder consultation held in April 2008 to engage partners in the development of the model.

Aims

The Coram Ealing Outreach Service was therefore designed to provide a borough-wide network of outreach support through group work and home-visiting in partnership with health and children’s services, the Jobcentre, community groups and others to:

  • improve child outcomes through effective support for their parents;
  • provide support, information and access to services for those families who cannot or choose not to come into the Children’s Centres thereby reducing the risk of social exclusion;
  • raise awareness in the community about the Children’s Centre services on offer.

The ultimate aim was for children and families to come to Children’s Centres to receive services thereby improving access to Ealing’s integrated Children’s Centre service offer by the most excluded groups.

The service model

Coram is committed to a ‘think family’ approach. Coram recognises that improved outcomes for children cannot be achieved without supporting parents in their parenting role. Whilst offering universal services to families with children aged under five, the Children’s Centre Outreach Service also provided targeted support for the most vulnerable and those traditionally excluded from services.

The outreach work was characterised by a ‘no wrong door’ approach ensuring that any contact with the outreach service offered an open door into a system of joined-up support. This was achieved through developing a whole systems approach, supporting
children and families within Children’s Centres and in partnership with the local community and other services.

The Outreach Service has built on best practice in localities, forming and developing positive partnerships with a range of professionals including health visitors, midwives, speech and language therapists, psychologists etc. Achieving quality by a strong commitment to continuing professional development was therefore possible.

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