Professionals from social services across Europe met to present and discuss practices they are implementing to provide more integrated support to children in this first meeting of the Working Group.
The Working Group on Integrated Care and Support will run between 2018-2021 examining a different target group each year to cover the life cycle.
The importance of integrated care and support
The coordination of support between different sectors (social, education, health, police, employment, housing etc) to provide a more integrated response to children and families is being increasingly recognised as important for:
- Addressing the complex issues faced by families
- Harnessing the expertise of professionals in different sectors
- Improving the efficiency of services
There are many different ways in which this can be achieved in practice. Some examples include:
- Joint working at strategic level on planning and decision-making
- Placement schemes for social workers in schools or primary care centres
- Centre-based service delivery, where professionals from different agencies are co-located
- Multi-agency teams, involving professionals from different agencies working together on a day-to-day basis
- Case-management, where a professional ensures access to all services a family may require
Some of the practices our members are implementing include:
In Finland the LAPE reform to child and family services during 2016-2018 will develop an integrated system that better responds to the needs of children and families. Basic services are being strengthened, and the focus has been shifted towards preventive work and early support and care services.
At local level, this is taking shape through the creation of family centres which bring together expertise from the health, social and educational sectors, including public and NGO services.
INTESYS is a European project being implemented in four European countries. In Lisbon, Portugal, it involves the integration of different services in the delivery of early childhood education and care (ECEC).
It aims to:
- tackle the fragmentation of different family support services
- create a more structured transition for families from before birth to when children reach school age
- improve quality levels which currently vary significantly.
Some of the measures to implement this include:
- The mapping of relevant stakeholders
- The adoption of shared quality indicators and principles on ECEC services
- Development of inter-institutional and multidisciplinary action plans for children
The Municipality of Mechelen has introduced the ‘GO team’ to support families. Social workers in the GO team have lower caseloads so they can provide intense support to vulnerable families, for example through weekly visits.
The team has an effective collaboration with the local police, child welfare services, schools and health services so that they can connect families to the support they require to tackle complex issues such as:
- Poor quality housing
- Poor school attendance of children
- Mental health problems
The National Board for Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) is implementing a government project ‘Early coordinated support and interventions for children and youth’ alongside the National Agency for Education.
The project involves the identification of projects at local level where social, health and educational support is being provided in an integrated way to children and families. These projects then receive support through the creation of regional networks for sharing knowledge between the projects, and extra training for staff involved in the projects.
Outcomes of the Working Group
The presentations, discussions, and analysis in the meeting enables mutual learning between our participants on effective strategies on integrated care and support for children.
In the beginning of 2019 the practices of the participants will be published on ESN’s Practice Library to serve as models that others can follow, alongside a comparative analysis of these.
Contact ESN Policy and Communications officer, William Hayward, if you have any questions.
See the photos from the Working Group meeting here.
- Alfonso Lara Montero - European Social Network
- Anja Langness - Bertelsmann Stiftung - Germany
- Jesus Vaca Guergue - Region of Navarra - Spain
- Magnus Wallinder - Kronoberg County - Sweden
- Assuncao Folque - Gulbenkian Foundation - Portugal
- Gert Eeraerts - Mechelen - Belgium
- Kjerstin Bergman - Socialstyrelsen - Sweden
- Mary Baginsky - King's College London - UK
- Teodora Raczne Nemeth - DG for Social Affairs and Child Protection - Hungary
- ESN Report: Integrated social services in Europe
- ESN Report: Investing in Children’s Services, Improving Outcomes
- ESN Practices: Examples of practices on integrated care and support