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Paper 6 - 26 November 1999 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

26 November 1999

IMPLEMENTING THE EARLY YEARS DEVELOPMENT AND CHILDCARE PARTNERSHIP

Report by the Head of Corporate Unit for Early Education and Childcare, Hampshire County Council

RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) That the Association welcomes the inclusion of member authorities as active partners within Early Years Development and Childcare Plans.

(2) That the Association supports and encourages commitment from membership authorities in the development of childcare initiatives.

(3) That the Association seeks two officer representatives from District Councils in Hampshire for membership on the Hampshire Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership and appoints a member to represent the Districts on the Families and Children Joint Sub-Committee of the County Council.

INTRODUCTION

1. At the meeting of the Association on 26 March 1999, a paper was presented on the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership and Plan (EYDCP) by Hampshire's County Education Officer and Director of Social Services (minute 28.99). It was suggested that the Association be regularly updated on progress. Since that date the Government has given full approval and support funding for the Plan. It is now being implemented by the Partnership with assistance from the newly established corporate unit for early education and childcare. Similar partnerships are developing in Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.

OVERVIEW

2. The government has placed significant emphasis upon the importance of establishing locally accessible and affordable good quality childcare from 0-14. This reflects growing demand from parents and employers and is translated into challenging targets for increasing childcare places. Such provision enables parent to take up employment and/or additional training, with potential for impact upon economic development. The targeting of identified areas of need for childcare provision has positive implications for both regeneration and social inclusion policies. The gainful occupation of youngsters out of school time and during holidays supports juvenile crime prevention, improved health prospects and the extension of potential learning opportunities. The training programmes within the EYDCP provide opportunities for parents and providers to improve their qualifications and employment prospects within a context of lifelong learning. The early years development and childcare plans involve a range of national initiatives which encourage the joining-up of thinking and practice across policies.

PROGRESS

3. Hampshire's Early Years Development and Childcare Plan states that:

"It is the intention of the County Council and Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership to seek collaborative working with each of the 11 borough, district and city councils, particularly in the possible joint commissioning of development workers to stimulate and support childcare initiatives five to 14 in their areas. This would be a cost effective and proactive approach building upon existing structures and people, yet bringing activities into a strategic framework."

4. The work is crucial to the success of expanding Out of School Childcare places, as there needs to be a close link between local needs and the encouragement and development of provision with borough and district council areas. Funding allocations within the Plan allow for a contribution from the Partnership towards the cost of development work in this capacity. Careful negotiations have to be conducted with each local authority in turn, before service agreements can be drawn-up. Agreements have now been reached with the New Forest, Test Valley, Eastleigh and East Hants Councils. Member approval is being sought in Rushmoor and Havant Councils. Negotiations are being conducted with Basingstoke and Deane and Gosport Councils. However, further efforts need to be made with Fareham, Hart and Winchester Councils. In addition to support in local development work for childcare, member authorities can be of great help during the planning stages for new housing in recognising the need and encouraging the provision of community childcare facilities in such developments. Similarly, assistance in continuing to make readily available existing community provision for early education and childcare is of great benefit.

REPRESENTATION

5. Currently the involvement of the District Councils with Hampshire Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership has been at elected member level with representation from Councillor M Roberts (Rushmoor). However, this has presented a problem in that Department for Education and Employment guidance does not recommend local political representation as voting members of the Partnership. Elected members on the Families and Children Joint Sub-Committee attend Partnership meetings as observers.

6. A recommendation from the Education and Social Services Committees of the County Council is that the District Councils be invited to appoint two officers as representatives to the EYDCP and a Member representative to the Families and Children Joint Sub-Committee.

JOHN WILKINSON 
Head of Corporate Unit
Early Education and Childcare, Hampshire County Council

Last update: 12/10/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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