In October 2010 the Minister of Children and Youth Services released an update entitled Building our Best Future – Laying the Foundations 2010-11 on her Ministry’s progress in establishing a framework to guide the development of Best Start Child and Family Centres. The update also highlighted the feedback that the Ministry had received from parents, caregivers, service providers and administrators.
The update stated that “parents only want to tell their story once to gain access to all of the programs and services they need for their children.” In addition, parents “…want an easily identifiable place [such as a physical centre or a website] where they know they can go to get the help they need.” For this reason, the Ministry has stated that Best Start Centres will offer a “simplified intake/interview process” so that families don’t have to deal with the frustration of telling their story multiple times.
As a means of ensuring that every door in a child and family system should be the right door, the Ministry has identified a No Wrong Door approach as one of its guiding principles. Further, as stated in Building our Best Future,
“In a No Wrong Door approach, wherever a family first interacts with the child and family system – and regardless of the type of service being provided – family members can be connected quickly and effectively, to a broad range of other services. Every service provider has a responsibility to provide families with the information that might be of use to them at that time. Service providers also have a responsibility to be welcoming and responsive to parents’ needs – either through direct service or by linking them to appropriate supports. The intent is to build a supportive referral culture across and within the service system so families will not have to negotiate access to multiple services on their own.”
The Kids First Huron Perth Steering Committee – a consortium of more than 60 local agencies and professionals committed to providing an integrated system of prenatal, healthy child development, early identification and intervention, and early learning and care services for children under the age of six and their families – was of the opinion that a shared intake process would allow organizations and agencies to move beyond collaboration and toward the fundamental changes that would be necessary to achieve the Best Start vision.
It was felt that the act of developing a shared process would enhance existing levels of awareness, communication and cooperation between organizations and agencies serving families with young children making their home in Huron or Perth County.
The Steering Committee, in partnership with The Foundation for Education Perth Huron, was successful in its bid to receive a Development & Demonstration Grant from the United Way of Perth-Huron to explore the feasibility and support for a shared intake process to “eliminate bureaucratic duplication” so that parents will no longer be required to share their story numerous times.
The report presenting a best practice review, views and opinions of key informants and recommendations for future action is due to be released Fall 2013.
The Foundation sincerely thanks the United Way Perth-Huron for their support of this initiative.