Integrated Services are described as those that are:
“characterised by a unified management system, pooled funds, common governance, whole systems approach to training, information and finance, single assessment and shared targets… Partners have a shared responsibility for achieving the service goals through joint commissioning, shared prioritisation, service planning and auditing. Joint commissioning can be one of the major levers for integration, service change and improving the delivery of children’s services… Ultimately, joint commissioning may lead to the merger of one or more agencies, who give up their identities for a shared new identity”.
Every Child Matters describes the key feature of an integrated service is that it acts as a service hub for the community by bringing together a range of services, usually under one roof, where practitioners work in a multi-agency way to deliver integrated support to children and families.
It is important that the Integrated Children's Services model remains flexible to meet local needs and respond to changing demographics.
Victorian Integrated Children's Centre Model
The model of children’s centres supported by the Victorian Government involves the provision of a range of early childhood services as outlined in the diagram above.
Additional complementary services which may be included based on the needs of local communities include:
- supported playgroups
- parenting groups or programs
- family day care program coordination, counselling services
- community space
- outside school hours care, and
- pre-employment programs and adult and further education.
The co-location of early childhood facilities with schools helps facilitate positive transitions for children between kindergarten and formal schooling and enables communities to become more child-friendly by providing readily accessible services that assist children in getting the best start in life.
Horwath, J. and Morrison, T. (2007).
Collaboration, integration and change in children’s
services: critical issues and key ingredients. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31 (1), 55–69.