The UK Government is committed to improving the health outcomes of our children and young people so that they become amongst the best in the world.
As part of this vision, the responsibility and funding for commissioning 0-5 children's public health services transferred from NHS England to Local authorities in October 2015 and from April this year all public health grant allocations, as advised by ACRA, included money for all public health responsibilities transferred to local authorities since April 2013. These crucially included a provision for 0-5 public health services to provide local authorities in England with the funding required to discharge the public health functions for their respective geographic areas.
The 2016/17 grants are paid in quarterly instalments throughout the period 15th April 2016 to 13th January 2017 during the lead up to our conference. Each authority shall then prepare a return setting out how the grant has been spent using the Revenue Outturn (RO) form at the end of the financial year covering the period 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017. In accordance with existing practice, this will be submitted to DCLG who will share the information with PHE.
One of the benefits of councils commissioning 0-5 services is that it offers a variety of opportunities to link with wider systems, such as housing, early years education providers and enables children's services to work better together.
Local Authorities have therefore embraced the prevention agenda and are in theory better placed to assess local needs and prioritise and deploy resources accordingly in managing these new responsibilities. It is however important that local authorities are supported in their work with a fair distribution of resources that reflects their relative needs, this will be one of the many aspects debated by our delegation and wider stakeholders in the lead up to and during the conference, along with best practice approaches to commissioning which are currently being adopted across the country.
NHS England and the Child and Maternal Health Intelligence Network have developed a health profile of public health outcomes related to early years. The Child Health Profiles provide a snapshot of child health and wellbeing for each local authority using key health indicators. This enables comparison locally, regionally, and nationally and encourages insight and knowledge transfer to occur around commissioning and partnership approaches.
The latest Child Health profiles (March 2016) however highlight the requirement for greater collaboration in meeting these new responsibilities as whilst there are in part some great successes, many authorities of varying sizes are performing below the national average. This vital conference will review these results and the subsequent others during the coming months and in February 2017 examine progress to date. It will seek to ensure that continuous improvement occurs across all local authorities, particularly in areas that are currently underperforming.
It is in turn hoped that through this provision of insight and knowledge transfer from across the countries leading practitioners, policy leads and governing bodies, our children's public health outcomes are continually improved and as a consequence a strong population health foundation can be created for future generations.
Early Years - Children's Health, Transition to Transformation will provide plenary and breakout sessions covering issues pertaining to many different aspects of early years public health and children's services policy listed below. With an emphasis on the commissioning landscape for the health and wellbeing of children 0-5 years, and the high impact areas:
- Transition to parenthood and the early weeks
- Maternal mental health
- Child & adolescent mental health
- Healthy weight, healthy nutrition increasing physical activity, reducing obesity
- Non elective hospital attendance/admissions
- Family nurse partnership service
- Health,wellbeing and development of the child aged two, and school readiness
- Safeguarding arrangements
- The transformed health visiting service, targeted and universal
- Child health information systems
It is clear to all that the October 2015 transfer presented an unprecedented opportunity to transform outcome based commissioning for children.
Our Early Years conference and the accompanying pre conference debate process will seek to highlight best practice across the country whilst ensuring information around future allocations and policy are cascaded down from senior officials and leading departments and agencies.
It is in turn hoped that through increased engagement at this conference, improved commissioning approaches and reduced variations in health and wellbeing outcomes will be achieved. These important transitions have provided a blueprint to improve the population health and wellbeing of children aged 0-5 and throughout the entire age range 0-19.