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Barriers for Parent Engagement in Childcare Services

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Childcare
Wordcount: 2805 words Published: 20th Oct 2017

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Critically discuss the barriers that parents may face in engaging with one area of the children’s services. What role can practitioners play in overcoming some of these barriers?

Parents and practitioners trying to access help for children with disabilities face many barriers when engaging with children’s services. While changes have happened in society over the past number of years it can still be said that there is always room for improvement in children’s services. This TMA will focus on children with a disability and how parents and practitioners face the barriers of being heard and accessing the help available to them. While children with disabilities have been integrated into mainstream school or given the opportunity within a special need schools, parents still face barriers of the integration of multi-agencies and getting the right help and advice.

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Over the past few years change has come about from children with special needs been hidden away to now being integrated into mainstream education or special need schools. This has developed as a result of the implantation of new laws and legislation to protect child’s rights e.g. children’s NI order (1995), Education Act (2011), and also the present Ten year strategy for children and young people in Northern Ireland 2006-2016. While this has brought about significant change and better quality of education for special needs children it can be critically argued that parents still face many barriers within the education system. Ashley Walter (2014) identified that children with disabilities have more unmet health needs. This was further seen more from children of rural areas. Parents are not only having to coping with the additional needs of their child’s disability, but also the barriers of seeking help and being heard for their child to receive the right education. As a foster parents for a disabled child I can refer to these parents as I too found the barriers of known what services was available as information is limited. Lambing (2009) supports these parents when his studies identified that parents face the barriers of not knowing how the system works and the support available to access for their child’s needs. It can also be equally argued that parents themselves set the barrier to engage with the services. This may be a result of not coming to terms with their child’s disability being in denial or that they feel ashamed of not being able to cope. I was inspired by the research of Brodhurst (2003) which shows that parents of disabled children have a social barrier in engaging in services. Chin and Philip (2004) support this when talking about Cultural capital, on how parents from different social strata define how their child is raised. It can be seen how parent’s aspirations can influence barriers as they can higher expectations for their child than they are capable of. This is when the role of the practitioner plays an important role to overcoming these barriers. Parents need the support in knowing that there is something wrong as well as learning that engaging with different services will overcome barriers. The integration of children’s services has been set up to reach out to these parents. Guaralnick J M talks about early intervention and its importance to both the child and their family. The development of Sure Start is seen as a crucial early year services. They provide an invaluable network of support and guidance to help overcome some of the integration barriers parents’ face.

Cohan (2005) sees that while services change and multi-agencies work together, so too does the relationship with the child change. Parents are therefore faced with the new barriers of how the child will intergraded into this system. This is supported by the research reported in the Journal of developmental and behavioural paediatrics, where parents and providers both perspective in barriers where children with disabilities are unable to integrate into the system due to their complex needs of coping with change and new facilities. It can be critically argued that our system tends to fit the child into the services rather than the service into the child. Can appointments not be carried out in the home or school environment? Has the child condition been taken into consideration especially a child who can’t cope with new places or people? These are some of the many questions and barriers that parents face. As service providers it can critically be said that we have a tendency to look at what we think is best for the child rather than listening to child themselves. As a foster parent I too faced these barriers as the child I cared for found difficult is coping with change. When attending appointments it caused stress and anxiety given the many barriers to overcome. Child A had the difficulties of dealing with not only the new surrounding but also the different faces and assessments needs. Then there are the barriers of waiting on decisions. I can say that I found it hard to know the outcomes and faced the barriers of frustration in not knowing what is happen and how Child A needs were being met. It is important as services providers to remember while all areas of development are interlinked each child is an individual. Like Young C talked about in video clip three learning guide 17.2 while the contributing of information is important we have to consider how we gather this information as it can be seen an innovation when professional visit the setting within short period to carry out similar assessments. This is the same for parents attending numerous appointments as it becomes frustrating to getting the same feedback and not answers to the services their child needs. Turner (2003) research I feel is important as he talked about the importance for the child’s welfare of having numerous agencies while at the same time having the support of a co-ordinator known as a Key worker to work on their behalf to reduce stress. These methods would help reduce some barriers and provide the support for parents during difficult periods. As stated in the Warnock Report (1978) “Parents provide valuable if not unique information for professionals who can then decide on the appropriate course of action in the ‘best interest of the child.” Parent’s participation is crucial in the ongoing development of services as they will be there for the children when professional are not.

An interesting Journal came to my attention was the Facilitators and barriers for co – ordinated multi-agency services which highlighted that while there is little evidence on the effectiveness of multi-agency it has been found that barriers are reduced of collecting information, clear aims and timelines. While we talk about partnership it is argued that it evolves, grows and develops a style of attitudes and working together, it can be critically argued that this attitude constantly influences relationship within the partnership and the children needs are met. Like Savage J in Video clip 2 Learning guide 17.2 states there is no point in ‘demonising’ agencies who are viewed as not contributing; it should be recognised that they have their own objectives which need to be linked to shared objectives which need to be linked to shared objectives. While this is true the barriers both parents and schools face are of professionals not wanting to over step their role in making formal decisions as they don’t feel they have the authority as its beyond their job title.

The key to direction of interagency work was set out as a process of consulting the children, young people, and parents using the service. It is to enables the children to comment on their needs and issues directly related to interagency service delivery. While this is the aim barriers are still faced todays parents and practitioners. While the interagency is to help relieve these barriers as a childcare practitioner working in the early years I too face the barriers of been heard. In schools practitioners also have to overcome barriers to help the child as well as building parent’s relationship. As a practitioner we need the parents support as they are the main source of vital information for the child welfare. This can be challenging when a child is unknown to have a special need and is identified within the school. While the UNCRC (1989) legislates the right for children to be educated in mainstream schools both practitioners and parents face the barriers of being heard and having the support needed to allow their children needs met. In my own setting we face the barriers of children not been assessed before school age especially children that present with autism, this therefore leads onto being declined the support needed within the setting. These barriers have an ongoing effect not only on the child but the stress parents face to being heard.

Guralnick J M (1991) highlights the importance of early intervention and the benefits it has on the child’s development as well Government DFE (2012) suggesting that poor provision for children and young people with SEND, particularly those with needs such as autism and dyslexia is likely to significantly affect their quality of life. However it does not always happen in practise. In my own voluntary organisation we do not have the support of the education system as we are seen as a pre-school and not a nursery even though the difference is the title. This therefore does not enable us to have the support of early intervention to get children assessed for autism. These children are suffering and barriers are set against the pre-school in providing services and helping parents to get the best start for their child. It can be seen that while new laws and legislation has seen improvements in children’s services it can be seen that the voluntary organisation who focus on the specific needs of the child, know more about children’s needs rather than the local authorities. The voluntary organisations work hands on with parents and children taking strategic partnership forward. It therefore is important that voluntary agencies are not set barriers but be included within partnership with children. Some families will turn to smaller community group for supporting needs resulting from the mistrust of statutory organisations. Voluntary organisations are user lead in that they are focusing on the child as well as the policy. That’s why it’s important that they feed into policy rather than local authorises which don’t work hands on. The sure start organisation has had a great impact in helping parents with barriers they face. Within the organisation they have provided a service where all personal meet under the one complex reducing the barriers for parents whose children have complex needs and find change difficult to cope with. It can however be critically said that some organisation only reach out to rural areas and parents outside this catchment area still face the barriers. It could be therefore said that the government need to review their services and enable all users to avail of the services. Voluntary organisations like the pre-schools also need to be included in these services so barriers can be reduced and children assessed at a young age. This would not only have the nature of the partnership been redefined but so too has the concept of childhood on the role of the community strengthened. As DH 2001 research shows that power can over view the resources needed and the children’s needs.

In conclusion to this ATM it can be said that Law recognises disabled children as being in need. While many parents and practitioners still face barriers to accessing services for disabled children in need, many barriers can be overcome through multi – agency support services that has a evolve to adopt a ‘holistic’ approach with the child at the centre. Voluntary organisations integrating into government and state holders are contracting these powers, drawing them into policy process would give children and parents an important role in the shaping of government and how finance is distributed. This approach is supported by Tuner (2003) in research carried out with disability and young people for the Welsh Assembly, it was clearly demonstrated that the views of the disabled people and parents was of importance. There has been and will continue a constant shifting of barriers for children, parents and practitioners within the integration of agencies, to ensuring that our children’s wellbeing’s are met.


Barriersto inclusion - Joseph Rowntree Foundation


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KE312 Working together for children Activity 17.2

KE312 Working together for children Activity 17.3

Sinead Bartley (Sb35636) TMA5

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