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Office for Early Childhood Education and Care > Service providers > Framework for integrated early childhood development >

Model for integrated early childhood development

Diagram - description below

The model for integrated early childhood development helps organisations understand how an integrated serve delivery approach works.

It has 3 layers:

  • All children have the right to learn, be listened to and actively participate in decision making.
  • Early intervention promotes brain development, improving lifelong learning and social outcomes.
  • Effective services focus on the strengths and needs of children, families and community.
  • Engaging the community and being responsive to cultural and socioeconomic diversity is critical to success.
  • Quality, holistic responses contribute to improved outcomes, especially for children from vulnerable families.

These reflect practical approaches and dimensions of integrated service delivery. Elements include:

  • Universal and targeted services
    • Universal services are directed at the whole population, are accessible to everyone and are delivered in a non-stigmatising way. They are used by children and their families in their normal life course. Some examples include:
      • child health services
      • playgroups
      • early childhood education and care
      • schools.

    Universal services often function as soft entry points for families to then access more specialised supports.

    Targeted services are directed to individuals, groups or communities at higher risk than the general population or with identified needs. Some examples include services available to children with a disability, communication difficulties or behavioural problems, young parents, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, and culturally and linguistically diverse families.

  • Multi-disciplinary approaches
    • A multidisciplinary approach involves staff from different professions (often early childhood educators, social/family support workers, and child and allied health professionals) working together to deliver services and provide resources in a manner that is most effective for the family, rather than a siloed approach based on specific professional disciplines. 'It does not mean that everyone does the same thing or each other's jobs. There are legitimate practice boundaries and specialisations that apply according to service and client needs' (Evaluation of the Early Years Centre initiative - summary report. 2013).

      As the degree of integration across services becomes more sophisticated, we would expect to see an evolution towards interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary working (See page 18 in Moore and Skinner's 2011 Background paper: an integrated approach to early childhood development Adobe PDF document for more information).

  • Evidence based practice
    • Evidence-based practice draws from empirical research evidence (both qualitative and quantitative) of what works best to achieve the desired outcomes for different families in different circumstances.

      In turn, it contributes through objective evaluation to the body of research that informs practice revision, future policy development and continuous improvement in practice models.

  • Partnership arrangements
    • Partnership arrangements can be formal and informal. Formal arrangements may include establishing a community partnership agreement or memorandum of understanding. Partnership arrangements may be put in place to help articulate roles and responsibilities or, processes for information sharing, or to formalise processes for referral pathways. Participating in local networks may also be a form of partnership arrangements.

      'Partnerships [can be] between families and service providers, between service providers, and between government and service providers.' (Moore, 2012, p8.)

  • Multiple access points
    • This enabler is important because families are more likely to access services if they are more readily available in the community. Access points may include stand-alone centres or community hubs, centres or hubs with smaller centres in surrounding communities, home visiting, outreach, mobile or virtual services.

      Home visiting services offer practical support to children and families in their own home. Home visits and support are provided by trained professionals on a one-to-one basis.

      Outreach and mobile services include programs or activities delivered within the local community area and bring services to the community rather than the community coming to a centre or hub. These may be delivered from community spaces such as parks or community halls; it may also occur within other services to provide additional support or training; for example, extra support to children at school or in a childcare centre.

      Virtual access points may include websites, social media sites or helplines where communities can access information.

  • Inclusive, culturally competent practice
    • Inclusion can be described as the participatory, authentic, and accountable manner in which organisations uphold and reinforce the principles of access and equity. Being inclusive dictates the manner in which organisations understand and engage their communities, as well as how they explore, view, and challenge barriers, values, and behaviours (Social Inclusion Audit 2010).

      Culturally competent practice involves being responsive and sensitive to, and respectful of, the cultural and social beliefs, values and practices of all cultural groups, so that children and families have the opportunity to access all services provided. There are many factors which can limit family access to services such as language barriers, lack of information about services, and fear of perceived 'authority'.

      Culturally competent engagement requires explicit recognition of the diversity of family circumstances, structures and beliefs about children and parenting roles across cultures and traditions.

These are the operational functions an organisation uses to translate the service delivery elements into practice and maintain the integrity of the model. Enablers include:

  • Leadership and culture
  • Planning and evaluation
  • Organisational structures
  • Communication and engagement

We do not expect that every organisation will implement all components of the model, however they should be able to see their work within the model.

To help organisations reflect on how they deliver services, we have developed a reflective tool. Services can use the reflective tool to assist them further with integration.

Next: Reflective tool

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This page was last reviewed on 13 Aug 2013


Download a printable version of the framework

Framework for integrated early childhood development Adobe PDF document1.9M

Framework for integrated early childhood development Microsoft® Word document115K

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