Review of Early Years, Children's Centres & Family Support
Currently there are 86,000 under-5’s living in Birmingham and the City Council has a duty to ensure sufficient provision of Children’s Centres and Early Education Entitlement places to meet the needs of these children. In addition, our partners across health services secure the provision of a range of services to support pre-school children and their families.
In 2013 a Green Paper was published by the City Council entitled Safeguarding, Supporting and Educating Young People and this discussion document recommended a number of service reviews, including a review of Early Years, Children’s Centres and Family Support. This review commenced in February 2014 and was planned over three phases. These are:
- Phase 1 – Baseline review and report (Feb 2014 to July 2014)
- Phase 2 – Developing options for change (Aug 2014 to November 2014)
- Phase 3 – Developing the agreed way forward (December 2014 to March 2015)
In order to provide a breadth of expertise and to ensure objectivity, the Council has been working with a number of partners in undertaking the review:
- Representatives from Private, Voluntary and Independent Early Years Providers
- Representatives from Children’s Centres
- Representative Headteachers from Primary and Nursery Schools
- Health – both commissioner and provider services such as midwifery and health visiting
- The Children’s Society and the Innovation Unit who have been leading local conversations with parents, children and community members
- iMPOWER, who are working with Birmingham City Council as a critical friend in our drive to improve Children’s Services
- The Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) who undertook a review of research evidence on good practice
As part of the first phase of the review, the council undertook an online survey for Parents, Carers and Practitioners. Over 700 responses were received and the results of the survey can be found on our BeHeard consultation database using this link.
We are now into the second phase of the review and this involves using the evidence we have collected during the first phase to help us to develop options for reshaping early years services in Birmingham. Our aim is to ensure that, against a background of shrinking local government resources, we are able to establish a sustainable, high quality service which combines a universal entitlement to early education with targeted support for those children and families in the greatest need.
This second phase will result in the identification and assessment of a range of options for change and will involve the engagement of the external partners who supported us during phase one. We will be seeking to draw on their expertise to identify innovative as well as tried and tested approaches to the many challenges facing the service.