Evaluation Proposal: Hillingdon’s Language for Life Session
According to GOV.UK (2014) that there is an overwhelming number of families who are seeking high-quality, targeted services. Based on their report, Children’s Centres are reaching over 90% of families most in need. The data shows that the centers are showing their best and are effective in reaching out to families and other service users in need. The former Minister of Education and Childcare Elizabeth Truss quoted “The governments’ clear that children’s centers have a vital role to play in making sure families get the help they need by offering a wide range of local, flexible services so they can choose what works best for their family.” Based on the statutory guidance of Early years (under 5s) foundation stage framework (EYFS), Section 1 provides clear role description of what providers must do. They should ‘work in partnership with parents and/or carers, to promote the learning and development of all children in their, and to ensure they are ready for school’. Thus, early years providers must monitor and ensure the success of the child’s development by following the EYFS guidelines to benefit the child’s future needs (Department of Education 2017).
With the growing demand for service, the local government in Hillingdon with the effort of their Early Inclusion Team work together with the Speech and Language Therapy Service, they collaboratively develop a practical approach to help parents to learn the skills needed to support their children with Speech Language Communication Needs (SCLN). The Language for Life Session is a programme that is designed to support and promote children’s speech and language development because of the effectiveness and practicality of the program to all service user (parents and children), since then, it was established as one of the services available in the health pathways and Children’s Centres (Foundation Years 2015a).
The program begins with each Children’s Centre assigned a ‘project lead’ who will join an accredited speech and language course, Elklan (https://elklantraining.worldsecuresystems.com/), and other short courses in helping parents to discuss child development. The project lead joins a speech therapy session in child assessment where they can able to learn various techniques, strategies, and activities used by speech and language therapists. The lead develops skills in ‘modeling’ and ‘teaching language development to parents. At the end of the course, they will be provided with a ‘six-week curriculum pack’ to assist them in organizing the ‘Language for Life’ programme together with parents. Every session, parents will be able to observe and learn how their child communicates and to know the support they should provide to help develop their child’s needs. By working together with the Children’s Centre lead, each parent will be provided with a developmental plan which suits their child’s assessment. The parents will be hands-on to practice it during the session and even at home. Parents have an opportunity to give feedback on the development and effectiveness of the learning targets given to them (Foundation Years 2015b).
Based on the report, 90% of children who joined in the programme has been assessed higher achievement compared to the other developmental assessment tool. Because of the positive outcome, 17 out of 18 Children’s Centre are providing the service to the community. Every session has accommodated between 3-6 families with a strong commitment to the programme. In addition, more families are joining in other Children’s Centre activities and services (Foundation Years 2015c).
In this evaluation proposal, I will be using the ‘Social Capital Model’ which will give a clearer picture on how the institutions (service providers) could connect to the community (service users) to have effective collaboration. Living in a modern society, we face a lot of challenges dealing with our day-to-day activities thinking how are we going to start and end our day with full satisfaction. As an individual, I cannot operate and live just by myself. I need people who could share my likes and dislikes, a family which I could count in times of trials, neighbors where I could mingle and a community to share significant opportunities. But because of the increase in cultural and social heterogeneity (the quality of being diverse and not comparable in kind), we face hurdles to meet our respective expectations and values with positive effect. This concept was presented by Putnam (2007) about the significance of a more diverse, multicultural society for ‘social capital’. He emphasized that social capital comes in many forms, not just any services that can be interchanged with others for satisfying their obligation. He stressed that not all social networks have exactly the same effects, whereas, networks can really affect our ability to get things effectively, but there is no assurance to be socially beneficial if we depend solely through networks. This might be controversial when we connect diversity and the success of the collaborative work of the community and local authority, but then, people who reside in a diverse community have a tendency to withdraw from collective life, to distrust their neighbours, regardless of their ethnicity and even from close friends, to expect worst from their community.
The big question is, how can we be comfortable in diversity? we are living in a cultural-diverse community. We are taught by social psychologists and sociologist that if we are living in a lesser social distance it is easier for us to trust one another, built confidence and create a feeling of common identity, closeness, and common experiences. In contrast, when the social distance is great, community distinguish and treat others as different. However, he pointed that some evidence implies that if levels of social capital are greater, instances of ‘children grow up healthier, safer and better educated, people live longer, happier lives, and democracy and the economy work better’ (Putnam 2000, Section IV cited Putnam 2007). In addition, he also highlighted ‘trust’ as an important component of social capital (Putnam et al. 1993, p.170 cited Scrivens and Smith 2013).
Studies show that people who participate in the planning of the community services provide positive and effective impact to meet the needs of the community. When treating the people (service users) as ‘partners’ it will create a strong foundation that such locally based partnership initiatives ‘ensure the social stability and cohesion without which economic growth and structural adjustment will be obstructed’ (Bagley and Ackerley 2006). In this sense, decisions related to the needs of the local community is not only taken from ‘professionals’ own perspectives but also from people (parents) who involved in the service provided by the local authority. This is important not only to encourage service users to work collaboratively but also to improve their quality of life. I understand that when the community will cooperate with the local authority it will be an advantage to them to get the services that they need. Also, when we involve ourselves to be part of the community it will give us confidence and trust in the local authority. Furthermore, civic engagement will create a strong relationship with the local community, the reputation of one another will result in trust and people are more likely to behave accordingly. We need to be ‘active and involved’ members of the society, there is more social value in working together with local agencies (Putnam cited Scrivens and Smith 2013). Additionally, there are people in the community who possess positive mindset when it comes to collaborative working. This trait will provide an impact towards achieving a certain goal, together with empowerment even few individuals could make things happen. It will also make a ripple effect for others to collaborate, ‘overcome passive and active resistance to change, and remove organizational obstacles to progress’ (Freeth 2001).
For this section, I would like to highlight the significance of inter-professional working in developing an effective service to the parents, which are the service users. Also, the parents’ roles to achieve the objectives of the programme. The theoretical perspective has given us the concept that despite having a multi-cultural and socially diverse society we could still attain our aims by actively involved within the community. By multi-agency working, it improves the service delivery not only that it also impacts the professionals, service users, and on agencies. In this manner, professionals have positive view of multi-agency work ‘being rewarding and stimulating, increased knowledge and understanding of other agencies, and improved relationships and communication between agencies’. Service users will benefit the access to services, it would be lesser hustle and appropriate referral, and a better focus on prevention and early intervention. While agencies develop more positive ‘interagency relationships and benefited from improved communication between agencies’ (Atkinson et al. 2007).
In view of the literature above, the following research questions have been formulated:
How do the Children’s Centre and service users work collaboratively in the course of the ‘Language in Life’ programme?
This question will evaluate the partnership of the parents and professionals towards meeting their objectives. It will also be going to assess the center’s approach to connect with their service users. It will investigate on how knowledgeable the service users on their roles. There is evidence indicating misunderstanding between the parents-relatives and health professionals having different aims for the child. Even parents-relatives feel that they are excluded from the process of the treatment (Rose 1997 cited Jakobsen and Severinson 2006). It is emphasized that highly qualified professionals could provide a better way in handling parents’ concerns in terms of the appropriate approach and understanding compared to those who are ‘less well qualified’ (Jakobsen and Severinson 2006). In addition, when service providers are showing a positive attitude and encourage parents to participate in the process of their children’s’ development it will increase their confidence. In contrast, when the service providers are impassive to the family’s needs and failed to recognize or accept family decision (Rosenbaum et al. 1988; Dunst et al. 1988 cited King et al. 1998).
What are the factors that make inter-professional working effective and beneficial to the ‘Language in Life’ programme?
This question will find the reasons why multi-agency work could provide a positive impact on service. It is an argument pointed up by D’Amour et al. (2005) that inter-professional collaborative work is not only a ‘professional endeavor’, whereas it is a ‘human process’. Interagency professionals may not fully cooperate if all of the efforts will be just for the service users’ advantages. It is reasoned out that many other factors affect the framework of collaboration. On the other hand, many service users claimed to receive insufficient service from different professionals due to lack of communication and cooperation (London Borough of Greenwich, 1987; DoH 1994 cited Freeth 2001). It encourages interprofessional and multi-agency collaborative working to minimize further incidence in the future (Home Office 1991; Lowe and O’Harra, 2000 cited Freeth 2001). It will also provide information from the different professional perspective based on each role and background. It will help to find a resolution to any issues and dilemma surrounding inter-professional working.
The potential participants in this research are the center project lead and 6 parents whose children are enrolled in the programme. A speech and language therapist, health visitor, and early years professionals who are assigned to check Uxbridge Children Centre. One on one semi-structured interview will be used to collect the data which will be audio recorded. It is recommended by Harrell and Bradley (2009) that semi-structured interviews are frequently used to have an in-depth investigation into the research and to carefully understand the answers given by the participants. There will be two different sets of interview questionnaire which based on the research questions, the first, is for the Children Centre’s project and parents. While the second set is for the multi-agency professionals. It will be conducted in the center’ meeting room. Ideally, one participant will be scheduled each day but if there will be additional time and other participants are willing to be interviewed on that day, then they will be catered. In the timetable, it will be suitably organized in order to provide a convenient schedule to all parents and professionals.
The projected timescale of the of the data collection will be arranged for 2 weeks. The interviews will be carried out every after each class session of the programme to fit the participants’ availability.
One of the significant ethical issues that may occur in the evaluation is the status of the individual who will be part research. A change of policy was implemented by the British Psychological Society (1193 cited Wolfendale 1999) that a person involves in the research should no longer be called ‘subjects or even ‘objects’ but the term ‘participant’ or ‘co-researcher’ is way better and carry out a sympathetic meaning. It also produces a better sense of willingness from the people on and with whom research is undertaken. The ethics should be careful to be considered when accessing children’s cases and talking to parents about the service. Also, the access to the children’s data should follow appropriate procedure. Thus, there is a stern consideration in gathering the data regarding children’s sensitivity issues. There should be a presence of constant respect throughout the procedure that may affect any racial-ethnical or social concerns. Moreover, besides getting the consents from the professionals, there are instances that additional consent should be required from the center’s management committee and specific departmental heads from the local authority that may have concern for conducting the study. In addition, Wolfendale (1999) stressed that it is very important to consider the personal and private aspects of the participant that might influence or compromise the process of the research and the ‘researcher-researcher relationship’. The parents and their children, and professional’s identities would be kept confidential and they would have the right to withdraw before or after and even during the course of the interview.
There are several possible concerns about the successful completion of this study. Firstly, both parents and the professionals are unwilling to take part in the interview. Participants may have difficulty arranging their convenient schedule especially for parents who have most of their time with their children as well as the multiagency professionals who have a specific time frame to visit the center. It may be discomfort for other professionals considering the loss of time in their work hours. There is also a concern that participants will not show up on the day of the interviews. Organizing timetable should be prepared to provide a convenient appointment to all participants,
The data from the interviews comprise of the parents and the center’s project lead perspective towards a successful partnership. In addition, it also includes the view of professionals that are involved in the programme related to multi-agency collaborative working. In analyzing the data, I will be using ‘Thematic Analysis’ where qualitative data from the interviews will be coded and labeled according to the criteria being evaluated. The audio recording of the interview will be transcribed even though it will be time-consuming it will be the best way to familiarize the data collected (Riesmman, 1993 cited Braun and Clarke 2006). It will give us a clearer understanding of the early stages of analysis. Furthermore, the transcript will be double checked back again from the original audio recordings for ‘accuracy’ (Braun and Clarke 2006). Afterward, I will produce initial codes which could help organize significant groups from my data (Tucket 2005 cited Braun and Clarke 2006). I will be using IBM SPSS Statistics 23, which the university provided a free software, to help me code the data. The next procedure will be searching for themes, I will be using mind maps to help me organize and come up with suitable themes to defined and named.
The outcome of the analysis could give us the standpoint of the parents and the centers about their obligation to support the children’s needs through the ’Language for Life’ program. It will provide clearer understanding that even though social diversity is present as one of the challenges in collaborative working it would not become a significant reason to achieve the programme’s objectives. Furthermore, the data will enable to deliver a resolution for interagency professional’s issues in regard to collaborative working and give emphasis to promote empowerment to multi-agency. The effort of this evaluation is to present the importance of mutual understanding between the service providers and the community. Multicultural society could hinder the success in improving the quality of service among local authorities, nevertheless, in a society who proactively collaborative with each other, it will result in a higher social value.
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