Kind en Gezin, VBJK and EXPOO are collaborating on IAS, an Erasmus+ project concerning increasing accessibility of integrated ECEC-services to support all families with young children.
From the perspective of the rights of the child, realizing qualitative and accessible ECEC (Early Childhood Education and Care) is a crucial responsibility for governments, giving each child and family as much chances as possible. Increasing access to affordable and high quality ECEC is a main challenge in many European countries.
Moreover, the needs and requirements of families have become more complex. It is no longer possible for one single organisation to meet those needs and requirements. Multidimensional approaches are therefore needed in ECEC.
Throughout Europe, integrated collaboration between services for parents with young children is growing, in order to assure a qualitative ECEC (Early Childhood Education and Care) for all families. Think about Scandinavian ‘family centers’ or ‘children’s centers’ in The Netherlands, and the Flemisch 'Huizen van het Kind'. There is a wide variety of what these forms of integrated working include, what their main purposes are, what their focus is and what kind of families they reach. Despite these differences, they have similar challenges. A huge challenge is the question of how to enhance the accessibility for all families, especially vulnerable families, that are most in need of qualitative ECEC.
The aim of IAS is to exchange ideas and inspiring practices between policy, practice and research on improving accessibility of integrated services for these (vulnerable) families with young children. The exchange of ideas and inspiring practices happens on different levels:
- Relationship between professionals/services and families
- Support professionals to embrace diversity and to handle sensitively to all kinds of families (e.g. by creating open meeting places).
- Increase the competences of professionals to interprofessional collaboration and leadership to work participatively with families in a context of diversity.
- Support the social work approach as a framework to empower families.
- Integration of multiple services (e.g. social, health, ECEC, NGO) in order to respond to the needs of families.
- The role of policy makers
- Support policy makers in looking for relevant indicators and outcome results on an improved accessibility of integrated ECEC-services, taking the families and their perspectives into account.
- Guarantee the effectiveness of the services, in the way that they are accessible for all.
The project wants to elaborate these two levels on a local, national and European level. To achieve those two main goals, The IAS partners are going to visit integrated ECEC-services in the country of each partner organisation.
Description of activities and participants
In each partner country, document analyses on relevant practice and policy documents will be made. Focus groups will be held with practitioners, policy makers, researchers focusing on accessibility and integrated cooperation. In these focus groups the context, the state of play and the future plans are discussed. Next, in each partner country a 3 day meeting (IAS-meeting) is organized, combining study visits with discussion rounds and workshops.
VBJK supports all partners in preparing visits (programme, study visist, methodology) and processing (a.o. discussion draft). VBJK will be present during the visits and in this way gives the opportunity to Flemish practices to get inspired internationally.
Moreover, VBJK is responsible for working out focus talks that will be organised within the IAS project. VBJK will develop the guidelines and framework.
VBJK is a member of the IAS steering committee, too.
The explorations, discussions and reflections on the history, the state of play and the future plans of integrated services in each partner country provides input for the online IAS-platform, with inspiring practices and recommendations for policy and practice at local, national and European level.