Good health is one of the most important determinants of a child’s life chances.
The foundations that are set in the early years have a significant role in shaping a child’s future choices and outcomes, educational achievement, and economic status. Good health is essential in providing a child with the very best start in life as the experiences in the early years affect a child’s:
- emotional wellbeing
- capacity to form and maintain positive relationships
- brain development
- language development, and
- ability to learn (Wave Trust, 2013)
All professionals working in the early years should be involved in promoting and encouraging children’s healthy development. The early identification of any need coupled with early intervention is the most effective way of helping children realise their true potential. This can only be done if there is communication between the professionals working in the different sectors who come in contact with a child. So, whether they work in the health sector, social care or early years services, there is a need for integrated and joint working for identifying a child’s strengths and weaknesses.
Health visitors provide crucial support and services to parents and young children and are trained at identifying needs and specifying the support that is needed. But this is work that they cannot do just on their own.
Children are now spending considerable amounts of time in a range of early years settings, a number that has recently increased with the doubling of 2 year olds entitled to free childcare. This makes joint working between health visitors and early years service providers more important than ever.
A good example of this is the joint team working approach taken by a health visiting team and children’s centre team at The Chai Centre, Burnley. Both teams are located at the same premises making communication easier and more effective. Children’s records are also shared by both teams meaning that there is only one set of record for each child.
As a result of joint working, both teams have been able to help each other develop complementary skills that allows for the best support to be given to families in an efficient and effective manner. Families are supported by the worker with the right skills and knowledge for them, while integrated working and information sharing ensures that any complicated issues can be handled by the most experienced staff members. This joint working approach has resulted in a hugely positive impact on children’s welfare and family well-being.
Wave Trust (2013) Conception to age 2 – the age of opportunity