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Research report

An international perspective on integrated children’s services

NFER

The study involved a review of the international literature on, and policies relating to, the integration of children’s services

The findings from the policy scoping indicate that the ECM experiment is relatively unusual in international terms. It is true that of the 54 national and sub-national jurisdictions included in the review, 34 showed some degree of integrated working. However, of these only a small minority could be said to be adopting an approach broadly similar to the ECM approach adopted in England. Although a majority of countries and sub-national jurisdictions (34 of the 54 in the sample) have shown some level of commitment in policy terms to a joined up or collaborative approach, very few have emphasised the centrality of integration along UK lines. Beyond the UK, The Netherlands, Norway, Malta, Hong Kong and the states of New South Wales in Australia and Maryland in the USA have approaches that, at least for some of their regions or services, are similar in construction to that of England. Twenty-six jurisdictions have adopted more modest approaches to integration.

The review concludes that the task of ensuring a joined-up approach to children’s services remains work in progress, and questions whether now, as children’s services move to a more ‘mature’ phase, a more locally-driven, but equally focused approach would be more likely to yield increased results for children and families. The study suggests that this is where – in the preventative approach of many other countries and in the success story of EarlyYears worldwide – most impact is made.