Creating the core care conditions for children and families to flourish: The role of early childhood intervention services
Our health and wellbeing are shaped by the conditions – social, physical, material and cultural – in which we live. These factors have a greater impact on outcomes than do the services we receive. This presentation outlines the core care conditions that children and families need to flourish and explores the roles that early childhood intervention services can play in helping ensure that these conditions are met. One of the most important of these conditions is the need for positive relationships. This is obviously critical for young children who need responsive caregiving to develop secure attachments, but it is also important for their parents and for professionals as well. This need for positive relationships is a fundamental part of our neurobiology and shapes our wellbeing throughout our lives.
The implications for early childhood intervention services of these findings are explored. Focusing on the need for positive relationships shapes both what we deliver (helping families build positive relationships) and how we deliver services (the relationships we develop with parents are central to the effectiveness of our work). Focusing on the wider core care conditions for children and families highlights the fact that stand-alone ECI service systems will always struggle to meet all the diverse needs of families. They need to be embedded in a comprehensive and inclusive ECD service system that provides all families with the conditions they need to raise their children as they (and we) would wish, as well as ready access to the services they and their children need. ECI services need to build bridges with these other professionals and services. Once again, positive relationships are the key.