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Integrated two-year review announced

The Department of Education and Department of Health have today announced plans for integration of the health and early years reviews for 2 - 2½ year olds from September 2015. It is hoped that this integration will enable earlier identification of children’s needs, support interventions for children and families and provide information to local authorities about the needs of those children.

An accompanying study from the National Children’s Bureau outlines some of the methods local authorities have used to support integration. These range from childcare providers and health visitors carrying out shared assessment of their two-year-olds to information sharing from practitioners’ separate assessments. The Early Intervention Foundation have also released a review of integrated early years and health services, with recommendations for future policy in this area.

Childcare providers should expect their local authority to introduce support for integration as we approach September. The authorities are free to determine their own methods of supporting integration in the local area, so if you would like to know more PACEY recommends that you get in touch with your local authority.

Commenting on this announcement, PACEY Chief Executive Liz Bayram said:

“We fully support the move to integration. It marks a big step forward in the changing status of childcare professionals and recognises their contribution to not only children’s educational development but also their health and wellbeing. Health visitors and early years practitioners have specialist understanding of children’s progress that complement each other. Together they will ensure far greater support for children at this crucial stage of development. For example, we know the earlier communication and language delay is identified, the more effective simple interventions can be. So avoiding the need for specialist help later on.

“What is clear from the pilot is the importance of shared language and understanding between health visitors and childcare settings, mutual respect and recognition of each other’s knowledge and expertise. Many childcare professionals tell  us they are often seen as less professional , their formative assessments of a child’s development sometimes dismissed by other children’s professionals. For integrated review to be effective, health visitors will need to value the insight of their childcare colleagues as well as recognise the strong partnership childcare professionals have with parents using their setting. This partnership will be critical in encouraging parents to take part in the review and to supporting any parent if a review identifies a developmental concern for their child.

“Childcare professionals will need practical support to contribute, such as flexibility around when and how the review is conducted. Training and CPD will also be key to ensuring shared language and mutual understanding, so childcare professionals can fully take part.”

21/11/2014