Date published: April 1, 2012
The site, launched last year, is one of the central features of the Dvernment's Early Years and Childcare strategic partnership in which 4Children are the lead partner. The partnership, which also includes Children England, Daycare Trust, Contact a Family and the Fatherhood Institute, aims to bring together voluntary sector partners to develop collaborative resources for early years professionals, coordinate communication between the sector and the Department, build strong links with other sectors including health care, and develop strong working relationships across the voluntary, public and commercial sector.
Head of Early Years at 4Children, Sue Robb, said: 'The partnership offers an excellent opportunity for the sector to demonstrate the role we can play. The range of themes and issues that are covered through the site and forum means mat professionals from all sectors will find the site useful'.
The Foundations Years website (www.foundationyears,or^uk) is the central tool the partnership uses to provide support to professionals from across the sector. It has been warmly welcomed since its launch receiving over 30 000 unique visitors and dozens of helpful suggestions for expansion. The site focuses on four themes covering the early years, offering specific topics of interest relating to: child development; early education; safeguarding; and engaging parents. It will also include a brand new section on the new Early Years Foundation Stage framework to help prepare for its launch later in the year. The site also provides support for parents, including recognition of thenneeds and concerns, and an emphasis on their central role in every child's life to ensure they can deliver the best for their children. As we know, the early years are a vital period in any child's development, and the information provided by the website aims to provide parents with all the information they need, and guide them through these key formative years as comfortably as possible.
Focus on quality provision
A key role of the strategic partnership is building productive links both inside and outside of the early years sector. As part of this work, the partnership will also be branching out in coming months to work more closely with the Department of Health, to share best practice and ensure that the support for children and families is at its peak in the early years.
4Children are clear that there is much to be gained from closer working between the early years sector and the health sector - including allowing early years professionals to take full advantage of the expansion of the health visitor programme, and ensuring there health, education and childcare work together in the most effective ways in Sure Start centres across the country. The Healthy Child Programme, which focuses on the foundation years, is also featured on the website and forms a key area in which health and the early years can collaborate for mutual gain.
Sharing best practice
The site will be launching a number of interactive elements this year, including an interactive forum offering expert advice, in order to further boost the opportunity for sharing best practice, and trouble-shooting difficult issues. Users will be able to post topics of their choosing to start conversations with other professionals, post questions for others to answer, and share examples of innovative practices.
Sue Robb added: "We hope that the Foundation years site will provide helpful support to professionals throughout the period to help maintain the excellent work currently being delivered by the sector'.
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