What have we learned so far?
The CHANGE Approach
This learning summary provides the key learning from a recent evaluation report of the CHANGE: Childcare and Nurture Glasgow East project by Harkins Research & Consultancy Ltd for Glasgow Centre for Population Health. It will focus on Chapter 3 of the report which explores the approach taken by the CHANGE team in the project area.
Key points are:
‘Iterative networking’ approach
Having spoken to a range of local people and organisations about their experience of direct engagement with the project, the evaluation team summarised CHANGE as having adopted an ‘iterative networking approach’. But what does this mean in practice? The term describes how from the outset the CHANGE team has sought to involve a wide range of community members and partners, gathering their thoughts, views and ideas and meaningfully using them to inform the project’s next steps.
“It’s been an interactive experience, consistently and continuously using different methods to engage both the community and professionals.”
Responding to what we hear
The ‘iterative’ approach also describes an adaptive ethos, where the team has actively listened to people and used what was heard during conversations in the community to adapt the focus of the work as the project developed.
The listening and learning led to a notable shift in the project’s focus, evolving from simply aiming to create more childcare places, to developing a more holistic model of family support and wellbeing locally.
“We don’t want to create more childcare that people won’t use. Some of what we captured was it is more about getting people ready for childcare; more about family support…”
Putting the specific needs of local people and partners first
The shift in focus during the lifespan of this project reflects the needs highlighted by local people and partners. This shift is towards making sure that local families are supported to get ready to access childcare at the same time as developing a range of childcare options locally that suit specific needs.
Along with local partners we are actively working to develop emergency childcare provision to help families in need as well as responding to the exceptionally low numbers of Childminders locally and Out of School Care.
“The national picture had an influence…but it has to be tied to local area and this area is more complex.”
The importance of relationships
Open and trusting relationships have been key to identifying local community childcare needs. These relationships have been facilitated by a CHANGE team that knows the project area very well having grown up, lived and worked in the community. An awareness of the historical context of improvement interventions locally and the careful but collaborative approach that this has helped inform has been particularly advantageous.
“The team is known and embedded in the area which is crucial in terms of relationships building and managing to get to people…”
A commitment to communication and transparency
CHANGE’s commitment to communication and transparency has been key to the approach working successfully. The project team strives to share learning and feedback within the community, especially with those who have contributed.
“It’s really powerful that they really listened, took things on board and then made changes before feeding back to the community.”
In summary, the evaluation report indicates that the strength of the CHANGE project has been that its outcomes are driven by community need. This community need has been identified by community members and their influence on how the project has evolved is a direct result of the approach taken by the team.
“Through very effective relationships they have managed to get to those very sensitive conversations. They have created a real culture of learning and not made assumptions about what parents want.”
The information in this learning summary was drawn from the following source:
CHANGE Evaluation – Year Three. An evaluation of the CHANGE: Childcare and Nurture Glasgow East project, prepared by Harkins Research & Consultancy Ltd for Glasgow Centre for Population Health in February 2020.