1999 Early Support and Keyworking
From November 2002, two pieces of research were undertaken by KIDS in the Yorkshire and Humber region, funded via the Department for Education. Using the basic KIDS Keyworking service already established in London as a basis, these findings were used to develop practice and ultimately improve service delivery for disabled children and their parents.
One piece of local research focused on workforce development and identified the level of need for specific training for professionals who provided a range of universal services to children with additional requirements aged 0-3 years. This research was circulated regionally and nationally and it was agreed that there was a clear need for a standalone, accredited course that could be delivered nationally to enhance workforce skills and knowledge.
The Early Support, training courses and materials were later developed by the Department for Education and rolled out across the country. KIDS staff were trained to deliver various modules, such as the Early Support Audit Tool, Working in Partnership and the Early Support Parent Workshops.
The second piece of research focused on the development of Keyworking services for the families of young disabled children. Questionnaires, interviews and case studies were conducted with families and professionals. The findings of these ultimately led to the development of the Early Support Keyworking approach to supporting families. Following the research findings, KIDS in the Yorkshire and Humber region was commissioned to develop a dedicated Keyworking service for babies aged up to two years. The age range quickly expanded to 0-3 years and then subsequently 0-14 years.
KIDS has continued to use this approach and currently offers dedicated Keyworking services in Hull for disabled children and young people aged 0-19 years. This includes a dedicated multi-agency Transition team based within the regional office. Wakefield also hosts a multi-agency team (WESAIL) offering advice, support and information to families with disabled children aged 0-19 years and a dedicated Keyworking service aged 0-8 years. The team comprises a Connexions PA, an unqualified social worker, a community BME development worker and a nursing post.
There is also a dedicated Keyworker service in Wigan and a number of services within KIDS offer the Early Support Keyworker-based delivery mode, occasionally alongside existing roles. Staff within KIDS still deliver the Early Support training materials which continue to be well-received by parents. KIDS follows the CCNUK model of practice and adheres to those standards together with the Early Support Audit tool. Families using the service continue to respond warmly, acknowledging the difference that Early Support and the dedicated Keyworking services have made to their lives.