The transition from set-up phase into delivery of services is faithful to the ABS ethos, reports the Warwick Consortium. The principles of delivering evidence- and science-based services, co-produced with local communities and with an evaluation framework that should enable a culture of test-and-learn to become embedded, have been maintained as the programme proceeds, according to recent research.

System-level and organisational change are examined in the third report of the implementation evaluation of A Better Start. The report draws on information gathered from semi-structured interviews and service mapping which occurred in most of the sites between November 2016 and March 2017. It looks at changes during the transition period form set up to early delivery.

Three key factors that are highlighted in the report as being important in supporting this transition process. They are:

  1. The need to develop strong partnership with both public sector and other voluntary organisations locally.
  • This was achieved by senior leadership across partnerships having bought into the shared aim of ABS as a long-term programme that was going to shift the emphasis toward prevention;
  • The importance of engaging frontline staff was recognised. Strategies included offering common training programmes; engaging frontline professionals with the service design approach; and funding the employment of workforce development practitioners;
  • Engagement of the local community was achieved through a spectrum of activities including: involvement in governance structures; co-production of services; participatory-budgeting type programmes; involvements as volunteers/paid staff; consultation and representation.
  1. Being prepared to review governance structures at all levels.
  • Ensuring adequate operational decision-makers were engaged required different approaches in different sites depending on existing local structures;
  • Community representation within governance was likewise achieved through varied approaches to representation and the provision of appropriate training.
  1. Developing an implementation plan.
  • Pursuing a service design model was helpful to determine the local plan despite the process being lengthy;
  • Developing a workforce development programmes for the wider early years workforce alongside service design was effective.

The report provides a more detailed account of the transition period, the challenges faced and how ABS sites have worked through issues to progress to the delivery phase.