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Multi Agency Working

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Multi agency working is an effective way of supporting children and families with additional needs. It brings together practitioners and professionals from different sectors to provide an integrated way of working to support children, young people and families. The Children and Young Peoples Board in Birmingham comprises of different partner agencies and organisations that each have a duty to cooperate under the Children’s Act 2004 in strategic planning, service developments and consideration of emerging issues around children and young people. Partner agencies include:

▪ Birmingham Children’s Safeguarding Board

▪ Education Representatives

▪ Birmingham City Council Representatives

▪ NHS West Midlands Strategic Health Authority

▪ NHS Birmingham East and North Primary Care Trust

▪ NHS Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust

▪ NHS South Birmingham Primary Care Trust

▪ Learning and Skills Council for the West Midlands

▪ West Midlands Probation Service

▪ West Midlands Police

▪ Family Justice services

▪ Job Centre Plus

Other adults or professionals who may be involved in working together to support the child and to provide the best outcomes for the child or young person include:

▪ Parent or carer

▪ Carers/other colleagues from early years setting

▪ Health visitors/workers

o speech and language therapist (a professional who support children with communication difficulties)

o Psychiatrist (medically trained doctor who specialises in mental health and may diagnose mental health problems and/or support, young people and their families who are dealing with mental health problems)

o Physiotherapist (a professional who is trained to maximise the body’ movement and skill level. They may help a child with problems controlling their movements such as a child with cerebral palsy)

▪ Educational psychologist (a professional who supports children who have difficulties with behaviour or learning)

▪ Social workers (a person employed by a local authority to support children, young people and their families)

▪ Additional learning support teams and representatives from other voluntary organisations (offer a range of services in and out of schools and care settings for children who may have specific needs, they can provide specialist tutors, mentors or advisors who visit settings and support staff)

▪ SENCO (a person in an education setting who has responsibility for
organising identification and support for children with special needs).

When concerns about a child’s welfare are raised by a practitioner, these concerns should be discussed with a manager or other senior colleague. If the practitioner no longer has concerns then no path is taken into social care, but appropriate services are recognised to support the child, young person and/or family. Where the practitioner’s initial concerns are still present a referral will be made to social services and followed up in writing within 48 hours.

Even as we ensure to protect children, there are still barriers that we may come across which could prevent the smooth management of issues and challenges that multi agency working is supposed to allow.

• Poor communication
Communication is a key element to multi agency working and all communication between professionals and agencies should be open and clear. Professionals need to be able to process the information they receive and work effectively with other colleagues, where these professionals and agencies aren’t providing clear and open communication and are not communicating important information quickly enough, it is likely to lead to unnecessary delays. In this position poor communication could become one of the biggest barriers to ensuring the protection of children. • Resourcing

Adequate resourcing in terms of funding, staffing and time is important to multi agency working. While it is important to ensure financial certainty, a lack of funding or time limited funding could prove problematic to multi agency working. Getting each practitioner to agree on the right course of action to take whilst all having different budgets creates another problem. Staffing can be considered a barrier to multi agency working because of recruitment problems, finding the right professionals dedicated and committed to the aims and outcomes and finding someone with enough understanding about multi agencies could be difficult. Hanging over these barriers is the subject of time. While these problems are occurring, and with insufficient time allocated to multi agency working activities, it could be likely that decisions are rushed or certain aims and outcomes not met. • Relationship and roles

Issues concerning working relationships between professionals could be damaging to the multi agency working process. Professionals should be committed and develop mutual respect and trusting relationship with participants involved. Also the lack of clarity over roles and responsibilities could lead to a lack of leadership. Without leadership and someone to oversee and reason problems such as who to report to and a lack of support may arise. Also the confusion over responsibilities may cause people to make assumptions like “someone else will do it” leading to delays in the process.

Multi agency working is a child centred approach and deemed to work well providing the best support to children, young people and families. It provides more benefits because they are receiving appropriate support in the most efficient way. Benefits include early identification and intervention, improved access to services for families through a speedier and more efficient process, improved achievement and engagement in education, the child’s, young person’ or families needs are addressed more appropriately and better quality services provided as the workload is reduced and the need for specialist services reduced also.

Development Matters Early Years Foundation Stage 2012

The new framework for EYFS became effective from September 2012; it includes government recommended reforms to the 2008 version from the Tickell Review 2011 submitted by Dame Clare Tickell. The changes have included changing some areas of learning and aspects of the existing framework and dividing them into 3 primary areas and 4 specific areas. It focuses on the 3 prime areas of learning that are most essential to make a child ready for future learning in the specific areas. The four detailed specific areas of learning build on the prime areas. It has introduced a progress check for all children at the age of two to access and provide for early intervention as necessary and also a simplified progress assessment at the age of five. It also focuses on parent partnership and aims towards strengthening the partnership between parents and professionals to ensure that the child receives the best care and support and that all their needs are met in a safe and enabling environment.

The seven areas of development include:

Primary
1) Personal, Social and Emotion Development
• Making relationships
• Self confidence and self awareness
• Managing feelings and behaviour
2) Physical Development
• Moving and handling
• Health and self-care
3) Communication and language
• Listening and attention
• Understanding
• Speaking

Specific
4) Literacy
• Reading
• Writing
5) Mathematics
• Numbers
• Shape, space and measure
6) Understanding of the world
• The world
• Technology
• People and communities
7) Expressive arts and design
• Exploring and using media and materials
• Being imaginative

The EYFS is very important to my role as a Nursery Practitioner. By knowing and understanding the four main principles of the EYFS allows me to deliver effective practice alongside my colleagues so that the children get the very best care and experiences outside of their home. The EYFS is also very helpful when completing Individual Learning Plans for each child and the weekly continuous provision planning. To be able to plan for the Children on our care we first have to observe the children and make note of what we see and hear. Observing children is a day to day practice in the setting and the EYFS helps with the observation process. This is because of the detailed age matched development matters that act as a guideline to what we should be seeing and hearing from our children and what we should be observing.

Once we have observed the children in our care we have to make assessments about the observations we have made and decide what they are telling us about the individual child’s needs, learning and development. We also have to include the parents in the assessment process because they are the ones who know their child the best and they can inform us of the child’s needs and care at home. This allows us to identify what the child’s needs are, their interests, requirements and current development and learning.

Planning for the child’s next steps is made easier by following the EYFS effective practice: Observation, Assessment and Planning. Once we have observed and assessed the child, we know what to plan for the next developmental stage that the child should be achieving. We make sure that the environment the child is playing and learning in and the activities we provide for the children are providing further developmental challenges that the child will enjoy and help them to be able to achieve the next steps in the EYFS. We then continue to follow this process by observing the activities we planned for and assessing the observations made before planning for the child again.

There are many benefits to using the EYFS in the setting. The huge focus of parent partnerships means that parents are becoming more involved in the child’s learning and development. This helps us as practitioners because parents can make observations and assessments at home and, by informing the key person of something they have seen or heard their child do, will greatly aid the key person’s individual planning for future development of that child. This makes the job easier for the key person and also the learning environment more comfortable and enabling for the child. However there are some parents with more demanding jobs and less time to talk to key persons or share child’s observations which may make involving the parent in the child’s development a lot harder than anticipated for the key person.

The EYFS also promotes and helps us practitioners to achieve a continuous structures assessment of the child’s development through the 5 years of the Early Years Framework. While understanding that the development matters that are included with the EYFS are only guidelines to a child’s development, it is helpful to be able to assess the children against the descriptors provided and makes it easier to identify their developmental level. It also helps to inform parents that are worried about their child’s development, roughly where their child fits into the EYFS and what they should be achieving.

More praise for the EYFS is that it is play based and is centred around the child’s interests. Therefore the practitioner’s job is made easier when supporting the child to learn and develop. The child is constantly learning through play and exploration and the EYFS helps to identify what they may be learning and what next steps the practitioners can put in place for the child to learn, explore and achieve even more through play. This makes the day care setting experience more enjoyable for the child and their parents and also for the nursery practitioners and colleagues.

Speech, Language and Communication

Speech is essentially vocalised language. There are no written symbols or signs, but everything is spoken as sound. The English language has over 40 different sounds or phonemes that a child has to learn and speech is usually learnt before the written form of language.

Language is a very specific set of symbol and signs, spoken, written or signed, that can be used and understood between people. It is structured communication between people that has a serious of rules that users have to understand and use. A child does not know how to use these rules and, as a toddler, will just point to objects or say one or two words, but will after a while learn how to construct a sentence.

Communication is a way of sending signals to other people. It encompasses language and speech as well as including facial expressions, body language and gestures.

Speech language and communication needs (SLCN) refers to a wide range of difficulties that a child or young person might experience with communication. This can include difficulties involving using language socially and talking to other people, being able to understand language when other people are talking, formulating their own sentences to use in speech or in writing, forming sounds and words and maintain fluency. Children with speech, language and communication needs may suffer from special educational needs, learning difficulties, autism and hearing loss. For some their speech, language and communication needs may only be short and temporary while for others their needs will be more complex and long-term.

The impact of SLCN can be significant to a child’s development. Social exclusion is a likely effect of SLCN and will affect the social and emotional development of that child as well as the child’s behaviour. For example children may begin to feel that they are less able or less popular than their peers. Without language children will find it very difficult to communicate socially and make friends and may feel lonely or not understood most of the time. Also, children with SCLN are more likely to experience bullying. Research has suggested that those children with early language impairment are at higher risk of developing mental health problems in the future. There’s also strong evidence that many children and young people who have Social, Emotional and Behavioural difficulties (SEBD) have SLCN which have never been recognised.

Communication is a basic essential life skill and is vital to the social and emotional well being and to the behavioural development of all children. It is important for the child’s future learning and to make friends and to succeed. Communication skills begin developing from birth. A baby will recognise familiar voices, turn towards sounds and communicate by crying, cooing and babbling. They will use facial expressions and eye contact to communicate with people and will explore play with their mouths and the sounds of objects by banging or shaking them. By the age of 3 years a child will be able to understand instruction and follow directions; they will listen to stories with intent and be able to produce some recall. They will be learning words very rapidly and will use simple sentences, statements and questions often with gestures to communicate and will play co-operatively alongside peers and engage in role play, imitating and mimicking the behaviour and common phrases certain people may say and do.

These skills will continue to develop as the child gets older, gradually learning more words and engaging in pretend play activities longer etc. However, the development of these skills varies between children. For example if the child is learning English as a second language or if another first language is being spoken a lot at home by family and friends, it may take longer for these particular children to develop some of these speech, language and communication skills. Also, if the child has used a dummy for a prolonged amount of time, particularly past the age of 12 months, can cause some delay in speech, language and communication development. A dummy can stop the full range of tongue movements that are needed for some speech sound and also give less opportunities for the child to make babbling sounds or talk and interact with adults while they are using a dummy.

A child’s listening and attention skills are very important when the child is learning to talk and adult support for all children is very important for the development of children’s speech, language and communication needs while providing environments to encourage good listening and attention. Adults can support the child’s development in many ways by providing a quite room to play with others without much distraction, commenting on what they can see and making invitations for further conversation with children and giving clear and simple instructions. Allowing the child to play and carry out activities and supporting them by giving help when needed but not taking over is important also as many children learn more by seeing and doing themselves.

In my setting we support children’s speech, language and communication development and needs in a variety of ways. For example, we ensure that when we correct a child’s speech, we do so in an appropriate way, i.e Child: “look a spoon” Staff: “Yes, it is a spoon, well done!”. We also label all toy boxes and equipment with pictures and words so that children can begin to develop an association between the picture and the words displayed whereas children with difficulties can simply tell by looking at the picture. On a child’s enrolment we also ask parents about the languages spoken at home and where necessary and possible, especially if a child is finding it difficult to understand in English, we try to speak in the child’s first language and repeat this back in English. Also, if there is a child that we recognise to have SLCN or difficulties with any of these areas we approach parents with our concerns and seek advice or support on the difficulties for the child. Also to ensure that staff can provide the best care for a child with SLCN some staff working closely with that child may be offered training to support the child along with the setting’s SENCO’s.

Confidentiality

Confidentiality is ensuring that personal and sensitive information is accessible only to those authorized to have access and is protected throughout its lifecycle. It is about having trust and respecting other people’s rights to privacy and keeping safe the information that they have provided.

I have to follow confidentiality policies and procedures of my setting on a day to day basis. When working with children there are times that a parent or child will share information that is not intended to be shared around and needs to be kept private and safe. As well as following the setting confidentiality policy, I must ensure that any information I keep that is regarded as ‘confidential’ is kept under the rules of the Data Protection Act 1998. I ensure every day that information that is passed on to me by children or parent’s isn’t shared around and is recorded appropriately as and when needed. I also ensure that recorded information is kept securely, and not kept longer than necessary. I have to make sure that any records I make are accurate and fairly and lawfully processed with only relevant information recorded and not too excessive. I make sure that any paper based documents such as observation or record are not left around for other people, which are not authorized to see this information, to see and look at.

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