Changing the way services are delivered in order to improve educational, health and wellbeing outcomes for children is not achieved simply through new buildings and co-locating services. It requires developing shared understanding, a shared vision and a new culture of service delivery between services and the local community.
In order to reach families who have previously found services hard to access, local services need to work alongside parents and community members to co-design and co-deliver locally effective and responsive programs.
In 2009, the Tasmanian Early Years Foundation recognised the need for a concurrent strategy to support the rollout of the state Government’s Child and Family Centre Project (CFC). With the support of Government, it was also agreed that this strategy would have most impact if it were independently facilitated. This would enable the strategy to contribute to CFC planning and implementation, unrestrained by any one service partner, and support the development of new ways of working with and for families.
The Learning and Development Strategy has been designed and facilitated by the Centre for Community Child Health between July 2009 and June 2015. The forward thinking of the Tasmanian Government, together with innovative strategy and resourcing from the Tasmanian Early Years Foundation, inspired this project.
The project is now being recognised by national and international early years leaders as leading the way in engaging communities of disadvantage in the co-production of local service models. As with most change processes, this project has not been without challenges. However, it has been immensely rewarding in demonstrating the benefits of genuine partnership between parents, community members and services providers in practice.
This paper attempts to capture the main elements of the journey undertaken through the Learning and Development Strategy, and to document some of the many learnings along the way.