COAG Mental Health Early Intervention Measure - Early Childhood Component: Study to Scope Potential Service Delivery
Appendix A: Proposal for a scoping study
Proposal to scope potential service delivery in the early childhood sector, from Early Childhood Australia
Policy contextOn 5 April 2006 the Prime Minister announced the Australian Government's commitment of $1.9 billion over five years through the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) Mental Health Initiative to improve services for people with a mental illness, their families and carers. The funding is intended to provide families, schools and health professionals with more support to recognise and address early signs of mental illness.
As part of the COAG Mental Health Initiative, the 2006-2007 Federal Budget provided $28.1 million over five years to support the New Early Intervention Services for Parents, Children and Young People measure. The early childhood component is a key activity within the measure.
The early childhood component aims to support mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention in early childhood within a framework of:
- Promoting a positive environment
- Promoting sound parenting behaviours
- Early intervention that targets areas of high needs, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, children affected by significantly and adverse life events such as severe trauma, loss or grief, and children of parents with a mental illness
- Supporting and promoting social and emotional learning.
Background to the proposalTwo round table meetings of health and education experts were held on 1 March and 16 April 2007. A specific Indigenous workshop was held on 23 November 2006.
The meetings discussed the approach and development of resources to help early childhood staff promote resilience and good mental health for children and identify and intervene early with children at highest risk of mental illness or showing early behavioural signs or symptoms.
Some key points:
- The early childhood sector does not always have clearly defined or centralised control points and includes settings other than formal preschool settings; i.e. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander day care, alternate care, long day care settings, intensive playgroups, etc.
- It is important to be mindful that preschools and other early childhood settings can be vastly different from primary and secondary schools and there is no universal policy or model. Some settings which are defined as preschools could be as basic as, for example, being located in a caravan park.
- The workforce of each of these settings is diverse with sometimes limited resources and financial and/or time restraints. When the measure is implemented, those working in the early childhood sector need to see that it fits in with their 'core business' rather than being an added task.
- The need to be cognisant of existing work in the field, plus the desire to ensure sustainability and quality for any program which will not be 'left on the shelf', was stressed. DoHA noted that the visits to the State and Territory jurisdictions had also reinforced this view.
- There is an urgent need to identify potential service delivery settings and assess how those settings capture the target group. Furthermore, there is a need to assess what adjustments need to be undertaken to better suit those settings.
The projectThe project will identify and assess the range of services in the Australian non-government early childhood sector from ECA and SNAICC's constituents.
Stage 1Stage 1 of the project will involve the development of a detailed work plan. This would take up to six weeks after the signing of the funding agreement, with the detailed work plan (including identifying the process of ensuring key stakeholders will be consulted) and detailed budget being provided to DoHA for agreement prior to progressing to Stage 2.
Stage 2Stage 2 is the implementation stage. Following agreement by DoHA, ECA will undertake the implementation of the scoping project over a period of four months, during which a report and recommendations will be written.
The reportThe report will include the outcomes of ECA's scoping study. Information will be drawn from focus groups and other methods from each state and territory, and cover urban, rural and remote settings. The report will inform the broader COAG initiative and will:
- Provide an overview of issues facing the sector
- Provide a description of organisations/services working in the sector
- Identify quality practice models and resources and any significant case studies.