Kind en Gezin, VBJK en EXPOO submitted an apllication for Erasmus+ on the topic of increasing accessibility of integrated ECEC-services to support all families with young children.
From the perspective of the rights of the child, realizing qualitative and accessible ECEC is a crucial responsibility for governments, giving each child as much chances as possible. Increasing access to affordable and high quality ECEC is a main challenge in many European countries. Children from low-income and/or immigrant families face barriers to accessing high-quality ECEC.
Multidimensional approaches are needed in ECEC to address child poverty as it poses a multi-faceted, persistent, intergenerational, and both material and immaterial problem, and integration of services in early childhood can be critical in providing comprehensive and aligned support to young children and their families. However, policy segregation at all levels within many early childhood programs currently results in scattered and siloed services that fail to address the holistic needs of young children and their families.
Throughout the whole of Europe, integrated services for parents with young children are growing, in order to assure a qualitative ECEC (Early Childhood Education and Care) for all families. These services have different names as ‘family centers’, ‘children’s centers’,... There is a wide variety of what these centers include, what their main purposes are, what their focus is and what kind of families they reach. Despite these differences, they have similar challenges. A huge challenge is the question of how to enhance the accessibility of integrated services for all families, especially those who are most in need of qualitative ECEC, which are vulnerable families and children like migrant children, poor families,…
The aim of IAS is to exchange ideas and inspiring practices between policy, practice and research on improving accessibility of integrated services for these (vulnerable) families with young children. The exchange of ideas and inspiring practices happens on different levels:
(1) Relation professional/services – families:
* Support professionals to embrace diversity and to handle sensitive to all kinds of families (eg. by creating open meeting places)
* Increase the competences of professionals to interprofessional collaboration and leadership to work participative with families in a context of diversity
* Support the social work approach as a framework to empower families
* Integration of multiple services (e.g., social, health, ECEC, NGO) in order to respond to the needs of familes.
(2) Role Policy Makers:
*Support policy makers in looking for relevant indicators and outcome results on an improved accessibility of integrated ECEC-services, taking the families and their perspectives into account
*Guarantee the effectiveness of the services, in the way that they are accessible for all.
We want to elaborate these two levels on local, national and European level.
To achieve these two main goals, we want to visit one or more integrated ECEC-services in the country of each partner organisation.
DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITIES AND PARTICIPANTS
In each partner country, document analyses on relevant practice and policy documents and focus groups are held with practitioners, policy makers, researchers focusing on accessibility and integrated services in general, and the above mentioned questions in specific. In these focus groups the context, the state of play and the future plans are discussed. Next, in each partner country a 3 day meeting (IAS-meeting) is organized, combining study visits to inspiring integrated ECEC services, with discussion and working tables on a theme linked to the abovementioned questions. Every partner presents its own tools, strategies and expertise on that specific topis, so it can be gathered into a toolbox.
From each partner organisation, four professionals will join the IAS-meeting.
The explorations, discussions and reflections on the history, the state of play and the future plans of integrated services in each partner country provides input for the online IAS-platform, with inspiring practices and recommendations for policy and practice at local, national and European level.
The toolbox will be disseminated by every partner at different levels within each country. It is meant for practitioners as well as for policy level and researchers.
Belgium: VBJK; Kind en Gezin; EXPOO
Norway: University of Tromso
Poland: University Mikolaya Kopernika
Slovenia: MALA ULICA