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Education and health checks in city "inspiration to whole country"

A centre in Wolverhampton that champions joined up work between health and education professionals has been hailed as an inspiration by Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah.

Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah meets (l-r), Sarah Brackwell, Health Visiting Manager, Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust, Cllr Val Gibson, W-ton City Council, Service Director for Children and Young People Emma Bennett, Locality Manager Carole Bourne
Childcare Minister Sam Gyimah, Sarah Brackwell, Cllr Val Gibson, Emma Bennett, Carole Bourne

The Minister visited Whitmore Reans Children's Centre on Monday (16 March, 2015) to see how the health visitors, family support workers and educational support team share important information and work together to help parents.

Last week the Government announced funding of £2.2 million for local authorities to implement the Integrated Review in September, bringing together assessments given by the Department for Education and the Department of Health when a child is two years old.

By integrating them for children in childcare settings, parents will get a more complete picture of their child, drawing on the expertise of health visitors and early years practitioners.

Wolverhampton is pioneering this use of joined up working, and Mr Gyimah came to Whitmore Reans Children's Centre to hear for himself the positive impact it was having on children and families in the city.

He said: "I was very impressed by what Whitmore Reans Children's Centre is doing to make sure no parent is left in the dark about their child's development.

"We're helping more families across England to get valuable information in a similarly convenient way through the Integrated Review, and Whitmore Reans can serve as an inspiration to the whole country in showing how to deliver this policy.

"An accessible check for all at the age of 2 is absolutely vital, as it's a pressure point where issues such as speech delay and behavioural problems begin to appear."

Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Families, Councillor Val Gibson, said: "The introduction of the 2 year Integrated Review this September gives us a fantastic opportunity to build upon and further develop our existing model which sees health, family support, social care and early years practitioners working from one building to offer seamless support.

"Our pioneering work is having a tremendous impact on our families, giving them all the information they need about the development of their children, and the help and support they need to enable their children to succeed."

Last autumn, the council received £191,000 from the Department for Communities and Local Government's Transformation Challenge scheme, aimed at boosting mobile and integrated working.

Equipping practitioners with mobile devices such as tablets is enabling them to work more efficiently, as they are able to share, maintain and update information in real time rather than after consultations or meetings. In doing so, they are able to spend more time with vulnerable families, identifying potential issues much more quickly.

Councillor Gibson added: "The funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government is transforming the way we provide our services, further helping us to deliver joined up services and integrated reviews."

The Integrated Review will be implemented nationally from September and available to children aged 2. Through it, health and early years professionals will share information and may carry out the reviews together - giving parents a better picture of their child's progress and reducing duplication.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: "We know it's important to check children's health and development when they are 2, so that if extra support is needed it can be identified early.

"Integrated reviews and the huge increase in health visitors will lead to better outcomes for children and families."

  • released: Wednesday 18 March, 2015