More information sharing – or rather lack of information sharing between early years professionals   Leave a comment

Back in 2014, I carried out a very small scale research project with some of my childminding colleagues about the 2 year old progress check and working in partnership with Health visitors.

I must apologise for not feeding back sooner – however I did read all the responses and record the findings.

I had a total 37 responses; some from childminders from verbal discussions with parents of the children they look after, but mainly from parents (some of whom were also childminders). Participants were from various geographical areas – with small clusters from each area as would be expected from a questionnaire sent out to childminders to fill in or ask parents of minded children to fill in. The geographical areas covered though were diverse, and so a ‘snapshot’ of the two year old check across the county.

It proved very difficult to group the responses, or produce graphs, because they were so varied – in fact the most significant finding was that there was no rhyme or reason as to when, how or what format the two year old check was carried out – and certainly not a coordinated nationwide system.

Therefore, I am just going to describe the findings in a general overview. Personally, I think a larger scale research study should be carried out, as I find it worrying that it is indicated from my small scale research that it is another postcode lottery as to when and what sort of 2 year old check is offered.

The second most significant finding was that a lot of health visitors were unaware that if the child attended a childcare setting that there should be a 2 year old check completed by the childcare setting.
Health visitors did not usually ask to see the childcare setting and when they did they were often only glance at. Although one health visitor did look at the childcare setting completed 2 year check – and declare it was wonderful and every parent should ‘buy one’!

Often there was no coordination between health visitor and childcare setting so reports were sometimes completed months apart.
So health visitors sometimes did the check when the child was just 2, and the childcare setting had not done one (and it was commented by some that if they had of been told that a visit had been booked by the health visitor they would have ensured their 2 year old progress check was completed.)

Childcare settings sometimes did their check early, but the health visitor carried out the check when the child was nearly 3 (and in one case when over 3) so there was no worthwhile comparison to be made or sharing of information and professional opinion.

Some checks were done in the family home, some in the local children’s centre and one was done at a play and stay session with several children and their parent attending in the same time frame – so again no consistency

Advice given about access to the early years entitlement for nursery education also varied from no information to comprehensive information. Some health visitors only mentioned school nurseries while others explain about the range of childcare settings. Some gave no information at all.

Another issue identified by participants was that often the health visitor had not seen the child before, and so the child was not ‘their normal self’ during the assessment, some (especially those parents who are also childminders) expressed concerns that their child’s progress was documented from one very short assessment. Some commented that the health visitor did not identify their child’s strengths or weaknesses correctly.

In my opinion things need improving, and there needs to be more consistency in when the 2 year old assessment takes place, and to be coordinated more locally between childcare setting and health visitors.

I know those reading this will be saying, that my research was not very ethical, and very ‘woolly’ – and I would agree. However, it was only ever meant to be a ‘snapshot’ of the views of a small selection of people.

Of course due to the time taken for me to publish my findings, things may have already improved, as childcare settings and health visitors become more familiar with the 2 year old check.

However, a conversation with a colleague this week (week ended 15/2/15) demonstrates that things are still not as we all would hope they would be.

So – respecting confidentiality, I am going to recall my conversation with my colleague to provide evidence that the system for 2 year old progress checks is still not implemented as a coordinated approach, and that therefore opportunities are being lost.

The childminder provides information to all parents about the 2 year old check, as part of the initial paperwork and via verbal discussion. As the child approaches 2 (or when starts, if already 2) explaining that normally will do the check at 2.5 years BUT if the health visitor wants to do the check earlier, if the parents provide details of the date, the childminder will ensure the setting check is completed in time to be shared with the health visitor.

The childminder keeps extensive records of the child’s development – observations, photo’s, tracking to Development Matters, next steps, individual planning – and all of this is shared with the parents on a regular basis.

Once the child is 2 the childminder starts the process of gathering information specifically to inform the 2 year old progress check – and tells the parent.

Recently the childminder had been doing this for a child in her care. She handed the parents their child’s Learning Journey folder to take home over the Christmas period, and mentioned to parents that once they had looked at the folder and commented on the form provided about their views about the child’s development and experiences at home, the 2 year old progress check would be completed.

January passed and despite reminders the folder was not returned

In early February the childminder reminded the parent again, stressing the importance due to needing to have the check completed in time for the health visitors appointment for their progress check.

The parent then said
‘ Oh, I forgot to tell you the child’s health visitor did this check in November’!!!!!!!

So ……
Parent forgot to tell childminder of the date
Health Visitor forgot to mention to parent that needed to give date to childminder / ensure had a copy of the childminders 2 year progress check
Parent forgot to tell childminder that the health visitor check had taken place
The childminder was not shown or given a copy of the health visitors progress check report

Result
One very fed up and disillusioned childminder
One child assessed without the benefit of the extensive information gathered by the childminder
One system that is still not working as well as it could
Opportunities to work in partnership lost

In my opinion in terms of safeguarding children this is an example of how not working in partnership with EVERYONE who comes into contact with the child – could potential have serious consequences

What if the childminder had a significant concern about this child’s development? How would the health visitor know?

What if someone had a concern about the child’s well being and reported it to the safeguarding board? Would anyone even know that this child attended a childminding setting, and therefore contact that childminder for information about the child?

If the 2 year old check is not going to be carried out consistently, or involve all professionals who work with the child, then it should not be ‘sold’ as doing so – BECAUSE – If a box is ticked to say the 2 year old progress check has been completed- assumptions will be made that it was done in partnership with health visitors, parents and childcare professional (where involved) – and if this is not the case, the box should not be ticked.

In conclusion then, my small scale research and my colleague’s recent experience indicate that at very least there are areas of the country where the 2 year old progress check is not meeting the criteria or expectations of partnership working, and therefore of sharing of information about the child to gather the ‘bigger picture’ And at worse that there is no consistency across the whole country and yet again it is a postcode lottery as to the experience a family has of the 2 year old progress check.

In my opinion simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Posted February 15, 2015 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

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