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Organisational structures that enable multidisciplinary work are critical for effective integrated service provision, and require responsive and innovative ways of working (Press et al. 2009). When operating in integrated environments, where working with parents to support children's development and learning is a priority, taking time to focus on organisational structures like policies, procedures and resources is important. This helps ensure that similarities, and differences, across partners and disciplines can be identified and practices streamlined (Press et al. 2009).
Organisational structures support workers from different disciplines to navigate differences in philosophy, language and practice. Establishing collaborative structures and systems is very important; however, achieving collaboration in practice requires ongoing focus and deliberate action.
In your environment, do organisational structures enable integrated early childhood development?
What resources are necessary to support integrated service delivery?
Could existing resources be reallocated to better support integrated service delivery?
If additional tools and resources are required, how will these be secured in ways that are sustainable?
Have systems, structures and processes been developed to contribute to the organisation's vision and direction?
Do processes exist to support appropriate exchange of information across partners? Read example showhide
At the Cairns Early Years Centre, the 'Team Around the Family' meetings bring a team of professionals together to discuss action and outcomes for families from an integrated perspective.
The questions below will explore how organisational structures enable the service delivery elements of the model.
Do the organisational structures support provision of universal and targeted services?
Are resources available to assist families to access services? For example, are program schedules accessible in person and online? Is information about other services available? How are staff supported to stay informed of other community services?
Do operational policies reflect a holistic approach to service delivery? Are they flexible to meet the wide ranging needs of children and families? How do they support partnerships and referral pathways across a range of service types?
Do organisational structures advocate respect and value multidisciplinary approaches?
Is there a common understanding of multidisciplinary approaches?
Are there shared team-building activities, multidisciplinary training, or professional 'swaps'? Read example showhide
The CEO of Ganyjuu Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation for Family Support Services undertook a temporary secondment with The Benevolent Society at the Browns Plains Early Years Centre. This enabled her to work within, and gain understanding of, their integrated model, and provide advice on the practice, management and governance arrangements required to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, specialists and families. This kind of secondment can be crucial for main stream organisations to gain cultural competence and improve their services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
How does the physical environment influence practice across different disciplines? Consider location of the service, including co-location with another service, school or within a culturally specific service. How does furniture arrangement, use of lighting and colour promote or inhibit particular ways of working?
Are there systems for sharing evidence-based practice, knowledge and understanding? Read example showhide
One staff member at Browns Plains Early Years Centre commented, 'A lot of the information [we provide] reinforces what parents already know, [but] when they know it is based in theory, it builds confidence.'
How do organisational structures effectively support working in partnership and integrated service delivery? Or do they constrict it?
How do recruitment and induction policies support integration? Read example showhide
At the Cairns Early Years Centre, The Benevolent Society and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service jointly undertake recruitment for the integrated centre, with both participating on interview and selection panels regardless of which organisation funds the position.
Are policies, procedures and resources shared with other organisations?
Are partnered agency purposes aligned with yours or complementary?
Are there formal or informal partnership arrangements, and are they effective? Read example showhide
At the Caboolture Early Years Centre, staff recognise that it took a while for everyone to get their heads around who did what when they first started working in an integrated way. To help the process along, they jointly created a plan which formalised staff roles. After six months, people became more comfortable with the integrated model and individual challenges were worked through.
Are there formalised processes for decision-making across partners? Are they working well?
How do the organisational structures support service delivery from multiple access points?
How do policies support the development of common understandings about inclusion and ways to promote children's development and learning?
Do steering groups include partners and representatives from the community? Are diverse families represented?
Are physical environments culturally appropriate and welcoming to families and specific target groups? How could this be improved?
This page was last reviewed on 21 Aug 2013