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While the benefits have been widely evidenced of high-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) for young children, especially those from vulnerable groups, it is clear that efforts to improve the holistic development and well-being of children and families must involve a wide range of policies, services and actions. No single intervention, service or sector on its own can hope to achieve sustainable improvements. There is a growing recognition among researchers, policy makers and practitioners that policies and services need to become better integrated if they are to effectively address complex issues such as poverty and promote social inclusion. Only multi-dimensional, aligned and integrated responses and interventions in early years can address the complex and multi-faceted needs of all children and their families, especially those in vulnerable situations, such as families living in poverty, Roma families, or families in the contexts of migration or asylum. As a concept, integrated working covers a multitude of cooperative systems and models. It is context-specific: different models exist, starting from the specific needs of children and families, with different partners and/or sectors involved in distinct policy settings. Integrated working approaches are often seen as a continuum ranging from cooperation, through collaboration and coordination, to full integration, in which different services are united into a single organisation in order to enhance service delivery. A wide range of sectors and services can be involved in integrated working, depending upon the needs of children and their families. These include: early childhood education and care services; preventive health centres; preventive family support services; schools; out-of-school care; as well as services from the cultural sector (such as libraries, community centres). Integrated working can refer to specific types of integration (vertical integration, e.g. linking childcare to early education, with both being part of an integrated ECEC system); or it can go broader, linking ECEC provision to services in other sectors such as health or social services (horizontal integration). In this report, we consider integrated working to be a form of professional cooperation within a network or partnership, which provides a range of support services for families and children, accessible to all, in which families and children can participate and where parents are respected as first educators (Gordon et al., 2016). The main purpose of this report is to examine the added value provided by, and the prerequisites for, integrated working – as well as the crucial role played by ECEC services – in order to better serve all families, but especially vulnerable and disadvantaged children and families. Separate attention is devoted to Roma children and their families as one of the most vulnerable groups in Europe, often trapped in a vicious circle of poverty, exclusion and discrimination. The report is written for policy makers and professionals working in the field of early childhood education and care. It is guided by the following questions: What services or functions should be involved in integrated working, paying specific attention to the role that ECEC can play? What inspiring examples of integrated working already exist in Europe? What is the added value of integrated working (for children and families, for professionals, for policy makers) in general, and specifically for Roma? What are the prerequisites for integrated working in general, and specifically for integrated working aimed at addressing the needs of Roma? The report focuses on different groups of vulnerable children and families – and, in particular, on Roma. It is based on a literature review and six case studies illustrating different ways of integrated working in a variety of contexts. Specifically, the case studies look at the Early Years Children and Family Centre in Newry (the UK); bridging professionals in Ghent pre-schools (Belgium); the Sprungbrettangebote in Berlin, which links centres to childcare (Germany); Sure Start Children’s House in Porcsalma (Hungary); the municipal kindergarten network in Tundzha municipality (Bulgaria); and the ‘Ready Set Go!’ project (Romania). The evidence from the case studies (Part II) frames and supplements the more theoretical part of the report (Part I). It serves as a basis from which to discuss the added value of, and prerequisites for, integrated working (covered respectively in Parts III and IV), and feeds into the report’s policy recommendations.
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... The needs of the children and families can be complex and cannot be handled by regular kindergartens or open kindergartens alone. This requires a holistic approach that puts the well-being of children and families first (Vandekerckhove et al. 2019). Norway adopted the Family Centre model from Sweden (Bing 2005) as part of a national plan to improve mental health . ...
... The Inclusive Education and Social Support to Tackle Inequalities in Society project aims at generating recommendations and tools to, among others, establish collaboration between different services to children and families. Related projects are INTESYS that examines integrated early childhood systems and research conducted by Vandekerckhove et al. (2019) about the role of early childhood education and care in integrated working. The latter one identified four key conditions for integrated working: '1. ...
... One explanation for the high overall satisfaction may be that open kindergarten is not mandatory; users who do not like it can choose not to visit it. Furthermore, families that are hard to reach may not visit the open kindergarten and may therefore not be included in this study (Vandekerckhove et al. 2019). We do not know if the people attending the open kindergarten were representative of the population in the local community, like Abrahamsson and Bing (2011) found in their qualitative study. ...
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Open kindergartens are a low-threshold pedagogical service that preschool-aged children, accompanied by an adult caregiver, can attend without appointment or registration. The aims of this study were to examine users’ experiences with the open kindergarten in Norway and to identify predictors for the overall satisfaction with the service. User satisfaction surveys were conducted over a 6-8-week period between 2015 and 2018 in open kindergartens in 11 municipalities in Norway. Every adult user who visited the open kindergarten during the survey period received a survey; 292 completed it (response rate 56%). The users were very satisfied with the open kindergarten and found it beneficial for themselves and the child. Multilevel analyses identified that four out of the eight scales, namely the physical environment, the evaluation of the staff and the benefits for the child and the caregivers, were significant predictors for the overall satisfaction of the users with the open kindergarten. The results suggest that the open kindergarten is an important arena that is highly valued by its users. The service complements the other existing communal health-care services for children and their families and fills a gap that no other service covers.
... These centres are operational since 2009 and aim to ensure equal access to ECEC in rural areas. The focus is on Roma children as more than 70% of the children benefitting from such services are of Roma origin (Vandekerckhove et al., 2019). ...
... educational, health and labour mediators) with the aim of ensuring the best possible response to the needs of any child and their families. Amongst the services provided until 2019 are (Vandekerckhove et al., 2019): free transportation for 529 children aged 2-6 attending the local ECEC centres; parenting classes; summer camps for children who are about to start first grade; children's book libraries; free speech therapy; Bulgarian language courses; family counselling (including information on parents' legal rights and responsibilities); mobile health and dental screening services; gynaecological visits; and home visits for children in institutional care and youth. A team of more than 20 mediators -most of whom are of Roma origin -coordinates the services locally to gain the community's trust and facilitate interaction with the service providers. ...
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The study on “The Challenges of the European Child Guarantee at Regional and Local Level” focuses on the primary role local and regional authorities (LRAs) play in identifying and assisting children in need to ensure their social inclusion. After providing a collection of initiatives and case studies so far implemented, the study gives evidence to the challenges LRAs face when delivering basic services and assistance to such categories of children, which are even more exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A list of policy recommendations stems from the analysis of these challenges and is addressed to EU Member States to further raise their awareness about the importance to involve LRAs in their daily fight against the cycle of poverty.
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Despite the international commitment to Roma social inclusion from 2005 onwards, the overall situation has not significantly changed. In education, important achievements have been reached, mainly in terms of access to primary. Yet, Roma students still lag behind. This paper maps policy initiatives for Roma inclusion in European education systems, analyses remaining challenges and explores policy perspectives. It first describes European countries’ conceptualisation and categorisation of ethnic groups. In doing so, it differentiates colour-blind countries that prohibit diversity data and prioritise integrated approaches in policymaking, and countries that collect such data and use targeted approaches. This work then identifies initiatives aimed at improving Roma students’ inclusion and recurrent challenges, such as segregation in education and anti-Gypsyism. The few evaluations available indicate that best practices are those that (1) combine mainstream and targeted approaches; (2) are community-based, with a genuine participation of Roma; (3) are conscious of cultural disparities; and (4) adopt an intercultural approach. An OECD Education Working Papers Series publication.
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In this research, we zoom in on twenty local networks that are installed in the fight against child poverty of which nine are located in Flanders, eight in Wallonia and three in Brussels. We look into the network governance, the network structures and the organization of these networks. We also gain insight into the experiences and perspectives of families in poverty, policy makers and social workers when collaborating in these networks. We conduct in-depth interviews with social workers, families in poverty, policy makers, network coordinators and network partners as well as participant observations. Our results indicate that there is a large amount of vertical complexity within these networks and that the role that the network coordinator adopts should be adapted to the different characteristics of the network. On the other hand, we also find that networks can include or exclude families in poverty even more and that networks too often develop child-oriented services while they should focus more on family-oriented strategies. Our study provides recommendations on macro, meso and micro-level.
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This report provides an overview of the status of early childhood education and care (ECEC) quality frameworks — or equivalent strategic policy documents — that govern ECEC quality at national, regional or local level in EU Member States. The review was commissioned by the Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) as an ad hoc question for the Network of Experts on Social Aspects of Education and Training (NESET II). http://nesetweb.eu/wp-content/uploads/AHQ4.pdf https://www.schooleducationgateway.eu/en/pub/viewpoints/experts/improving-the-quality-of-ecec.htm
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Researchers and international organizations broadly agree that the quality of early childhood education and care (ECEC), and of schools, depends on well-educated and competent staff (OECD, 2006; UNICEF, 2008; Milotay, 2016). The contemporary educating/teaching profession has become incredibly complex (European Commission, 2011a) prompting calls for stronger support of ECEC and school staff, which could be included in both initial education and continuous professional development (CPD). The complex multi-diverse societies in which we live, make it indeed impossible today to find standardized solutions for all families/children. Negotiation and reflection are then essential competences to be achieved by practitioners/teachers in ECEC services and schools in order to contextualize pedagogical practice and adapt it to the diversity of children and families. However, these competences are not prioritised by traditional forms of CPD (for example, seminars or top-down approaches). Therefore the latter need to be integrated with additional forms of CPD that focus on the active and democratic participation of staff. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are a valuable answer in this direction (see 28). PLCs can be described as ‘a group of people sharing and critically interrogating their practice in an on-going, reflective, collaborative, inclusive, learning-oriented, growth-promoting way’ (Stoll et al., 2006, p. 223). The goal is not ‘being a professional learning community’, but improving wellbeing and learning for children and families (Ibidem). Competent systems are necessary to create and maintain PLCs. The latter require a multilevel network of competences, structural conditions, engagement, and awareness. Many definitions have been offered of what a professional learning community is or ought to be, with the risk of losing its true meaning (DuFour, 2004). This report seeks to correct this gap, by: 1) providing a framework to explain the need for PLCs today (see 20); 2) offering a clear definition of the essential criteria that define a PLC, with concrete examples from several European countries (see 28); and 3) providing four in-depth case studies—from Belgium (Flanders), Croatia, Italy and Slovenia—which illustrate different ways of establishing and sustaining PLCs (see 38). The study ends with specific conclusions and recommendations for policy makers in Member States. It should be noted that the report focuses on services and schools for 0 to 12 years old children. However, the key concepts and conclusions could also be readapted for secondary school.
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This report provides an overview of policy strategies on early childhood education settings (from birth to primary schooling) in eight countries. Data were collected using a policy questionnaire addressed to and completed by the National Research Coordinator(s) (NRC) of Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Poland, the Russian Federation and the United States. The countries that participated provide interesting illustrations of early childhood education policy in action in a range of diverse contexts. Analysis of the systemic and structural results of ECE policy at national and, where necessary, subnational levels, enables transnational comparisons in policy and systems. Key policy changes, both underway and planned, are documented. These data reveal key findings in each of the five policy areas as covered in the questionnaire and this report: public policy; delivery models and providers; participation and enrollment; quality assurance systems; and expectations for child outcomes. In particular, the study aims to provide meaningful information for countries, states and jurisdictions across the world in relation to early childhood education, mapping the systems, structures and user pathways in place, along with the perceptions of stakeholders about the system, its functioning and impact. This comprehensive assessment of the wider policy contexts and settings for early childhood education includes teacher/practitioner qualifications, pedagogy approaches, and opportunities for professional development. Such information will enable countries to review their early childhood education systems in an international context. © International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) 2016.
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https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/485346/DFE-RR495_Evaluation_of_children_s_centres_in_England__the_impact_of_children_s_centres.pdf
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In Serbia, as in the other countries of the Western Balkans and South-Eastern Europe, the most disadvantaged communities belong to the Roma minority. The present paper demonstrates the conditions of Roma preschool children in Serbia: primarily their early education, but also habitation and health in Roma settlements. The data highlight the under-representation of Roma children in pre-primary education, although their growing up in extremely deprived settlements would suggest a need for their earliest possible inclusion in pre-primary services. The paper analyses the following barriers to the access of Roma children to the system of pre-primary education: the poverty of Roma families; discrimination and prejudice towards Roma; the lack of intercultural provision; insufficient inter-sectorial cooperation; the underdeveloped network of preschool institutions; and the absence of kindergartens in Roma settlements. In addition, possible ways to increase the coverage of Roma children in pre-primary education are discussed. As a transitory solution, the paper proposes comprehensive community-based programmes that could contribute to the education, care, health and overall development of young Roma children before their inclusion in desegregated programmes in preschool institutions.
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This review of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in twenty OECD countries describes the social, economic, conceptual and research factors that influence early childhood policy. These include increasing women's labour market participation; reconciling work and family responsibilities on a more equitable basis for women; confronting the demographic challenges faced by OECD countries; and in particular, addressing issues of access, quality, diversity, child poverty and educational disadvantage. Starting Strong II outlines the progress made by the participating countries in responding to the key aspects of successful ECEC policy outlined in the previous volume, Starting Strong (OECD, 2001). It offers many examples of new policy initiatives adopted in the ECEC field. In their conclusion, the authors identify ten policy areas for further critical attention from governments. The book also presents country profiles, which give an overview of ECEC systems in all 20 participating countries.