Event recap: EIF Places Network, 23 March
Ben Lewing recaps the key themes and topics from the second meeting of the EIF Places Network.
EIF’s second meeting of the Places Network unexpectedly took on a different tone when the usual busyness of Westminster was shattered during the previous afternoon. One of our speakers was redeployed at the last minute to the important task of maintaining public confidence. Some members chose to stay away; for others it was business as usual. EIF chief executive Carey Oppenheim captured the sombre mood in her introduction, as she reflected on the importance of social and emotional resilience developed in childhood, both for building tolerance and helping us to cope with adversity.
The customary update on EIF projects focused on our new collaboration with West Yorkshire Police to lead the way on early intervention in policing; preventing gang and youth violence in Wandsworth and Lambeth; upcoming review publications on language and communication, and early-years evidence; and the development of a new commissioner guide on interparental relationships. We also heard from Daniel Acquah, EIF evidence analyst, about the recent assessment of programmes for social and emotional learning, which generated a discussion about hidden programme costs and implementation challenges. Seventeen of these programmes have been added to the EIF Guidebook. Islington shared an interesting example of schools reducing the impact on their resources by co-delivering Incredible Years with CAMHS.
Then the early years ‘supergroup’ of (Chris) Cuthbert, (Michaela) Howell and (Merle) Davies led a discussion about engaging communities in A Better Start – fascinating, honest, challenging. We heard about the Blackpool parents who challenged the US professor over Skype to make a programme design work better; the reality of sharing power with parents in Bradford; buddying up service leaders and community members; and nurturing the ‘gold-dust people’.
After lunch, the focus turned to the results of EIF’s work on multi-agency systems, and how national leaders could support the development of joined-up systems. The recent deep dives have started to show a common typology, but with more focus on children and families with complex needs. There was a general consensus that national leadership, new system planning and evaluation tools, practical support and common metrics were needed to make early intervention systems more effective.
To round off the day, Jackie Clementson explained the early help story behind the success of Hertfordshire’s reduction in demand for social care services.
As ever, it was a challenging and thought-provoking day. Where else can you find that level of expertise on early intervention in one room? Priceless.
What happens next?