Challenges and opportunities in integrating early years services: a spotlight on the workforce



This date of this webinar has passed. Please find the recording below.

Adopting multi-sectoral approaches in the early years, which integrate parenting support, nutrition, health, social protection, child protection, and education, is widely recognised as the way forward to meet global challenges. Multifaceted problems require both multiple as well as aligned and well-coordinated interventions. Poverty, discrimination and increasing inequalities need to be addressed in an integrated manner in order to bring about qualitative and quantitative change.

So called ‘integrated services’ are seen as desirable for responding to the complex problems that characterise the realities of children and families. Therefore, the way early childhood systems are designed, governed and financed, and the way early childhood services are delivered can make a dramatic difference in children’s as well as in their families’ life. Yet, that there are many barriers to making integration work and that it may take different shapes depending on the context.
The objective of this webinar was to discuss the conditions for interagency work from the perspective of those in a position of leadership in the early year’s workforce.
This webinar proposed to discuss the following statements:

  • Research indicates that the integration of services at a managerial level does not always ensure the effectiveness of professionals working together on the frontline.
  • Working in an integrated low-threshold way for 'hard-to-reach' families requires different attitudes and values of professionals: the old ‘expert’ way (including paternalistic attitudes) will need to make way for a more enabling, welcoming, participative and inclusive work attitude. Parents/carers and children should receive the services they actually deserve/want, not what professionals think they deserve/want. This will make the services more accessible as well and will make people more motivated to work together.
  • There is mixed evidence for the importance of co-location as a key driver for integration. While studies have asserted that co-location is necessary, others have reported this is not always the case. Co-location may even have undesirable side-effects, for example in terms of socially selective access.
  • Developing competent practices cannot be considered as the sole responsibility of individual practitioners but is a joint effort that involves teams, training centres, local administrative institutions and nongovernmental bodies, as well as national and/or regional governance systems that provide the conditions for staff development. Successful initiatives are characterised by a coherent policy on institutional and inter-institutional levels, involving:    1. Training the coordinators/managers/directors of ECEC centres;    2. Exchange of practices among centres (documenting, networking and disseminating);    3. Peer group meetings (learning communities);    4.  Pedagogical mentoring by specialised staff.


Meet the Panelists:

Giulia Cortellesi, Senior Programme Manager, Early Years Team, International Child Development Initiatives (ICDI), Leiden, The Netherlands [Bio]

Jacqueline Barnes, Director of Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues, Birbeck University of London, UK [Bio
Jan Peeters, Director of VBJK, Centre for Innovation in the Early Years at Ghent University, Belgium [Bio]