Open letter to Kate Middleton – Part Three

A campaign to benefit ALL children with no exceptions

[For readers in other countries, Kate Middleton is part of the English royal family and has launched the ‘Shaping Us Campaign’ to create national public awareness of the critical importance of a child’s first five years.Contact: 'Centre for Early Childhood' This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ]

Dear Kate Middleton,

This important campaign seems to me to be all about supporting parents so they can give their infants and pre-school children a positive experience of being alive and optimum opportunities to thrive. I appreciate that the campaign is in its early days but I cannot help wondering what this new support for parents will look like. Will it be through social media, smart phones and television or will it be a new ‘Kate’s Army’ of people on the ground where the children are? Will they be called key workers, case workers, field workers, SUPs (Shaping Us Practitioners) or something else?

In the second part of my open letter, I suggested that parent of babies and infants who have challenges to their development and learning have a wealth of knowledge, experience and wisdom that could boost your campaign.  I now want to suggest another valuable resource – the early support practitioners who are trying to support those children and families in England as I write. They face two major problems that the Shaping Us Campaign might anticipate.

The first is about time. There are too many children and too few practitioners to support them. This results in rationing, waiting lists and over-stressed practitioners unable to give each child the time they need. This also means hardly any time for practitioners to give to parents for essential listening, emotional support and shared planning.

The second is about inadequate training for practitioners. We need intelligent integration of all agencies to create seamless support. This integration would build a fully-integrated multiagency system for each locality within which each individual child and family would receive joined-up support from education, health, social care and other agencies. This multiagency, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary teamwork is not happening, in part because doctors, nurses, teachers, paediatric therapists, social workers and psychologists are not trained for this in their colleges and universities. Joined-up working remains an alien concept so children and parents have to struggle on as best they can with fragmented bits of support. This is a significant cause of exhaustion and stress for families in England.

Obviously, my two problems are connected. If practitioners could be enabled to join together in transdisciplinary teamwork, much time would be saved! Perhaps the Shaping Us Campaign will find a way forward. I feel sure there are very many practitioners in England who would be willing to meet with you.

With respect and all good wishes,

Peter Limbrick

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