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Developing a focus on local need: Norfolk and the EYTA


21 Nov 2019

Sarah Jones, director of commissioning, partnerships and resources at Norfolk County Council, reflects on their involvement in our Early Years Transformation Academy (EYTA), as the programme reaches the halfway mark.

For more blogs from participating EYTA areas, see also: 

Why did you decide to participate in the EYTA?

We decided to become involved with the EYTA following the transformation of Norfolk’s children’s centre offer to a new early childhood and family service. This transformation piece of work enabled us to be more data- and evidenced-based in our design, which led us to identify three clear areas that we need to focus on in Norfolk:

  • supporting children to achieve their developmental milestones
  • preventing more children aged 0–5 from experiencing neglect or emotional harm; and
  • increasing social mobility. 

Only by working together as a whole system will we achieve the impact and outcomes needed for families and children and use our resources efficiently and in the right place to affect change. One service alone cannot achieve this. How we work together to deliver those services will define our success in the future, hence it seemed perfect timing to galvanise our partnership ambition and be part of EYTA.

What have you learned so far?

The most helpful part of this experience thus far in terms of progress is strengthening relationships with each other. Having the senior leads from the CCG, public health, Healthy Child Programme, early years, maternity, parental mental health and social care all come together once a fortnight for delivery team meetings has really enabled us get to know each other, understand each other’s worlds and perspectives and build trusted relationships. I can’t emphasise enough the power of this: we talk about trusted relationships with families but that should include us too with each other.

In terms of our learning, using a shared methodology that enables us to map not only services and functions but interventions, and then cross referencing these against need is proving very insightful for us both strategically and operationally. We are working together to identify both gaps and duplication in the system. Most importantly, it is getting us thinking about what the key determinants are that influence outcomes for families, and whether or not the interventions we are using are the right ones in terms of their evidence base and impact. This is our main priority for the duration of the programme.

We are also in the process of setting up seven early childhood advisory boards. Norfolk is a large county and needs vary, so the way in which we deliver and focus our services must reflect local needs. We need to use local intelligence and data to affect change that is much closer to the communities which we serve.

Everyone is really busy with day jobs and it’s very easy to slip back into silos and partnership working can become secondary. However, the fact that we all recognise this as a risk is a positive. Coming together once a fortnight is keeping us motivated and demonstrating that it is working together in partnership to design and deliver our early childhood services that will define our future success.