An extended literature review, interviews with stakeholders from more than 20 countries in Europe and the piloting experiences from Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Slovenia have contributed to the development of the innovative toolkit Towards Integrated Early Childhood Education and Care Systems – Building the Foundations, part of INTESYS project (Together: Supporting vulnerable children through integrated early childhood services) funded through the Erasmus+ Programme.
The Toolkit advances a Reference Framework for Integration in ECEC systems consisting of three building blocks of the process: Values and Principles, Key Factors and Quality Practices. The building blocks indicate the most important elements to be considered when working towards more and better integration in early childhood systems, across sectors, services, and levels of governance. The Toolkit proposes a journey for integration guided by the Reference Framework, following a cyclic process of change. Each phase is accompanied by guiding questions, envisaged outcomes, general recommendations, tips, lessons learned from the pilots conducted in the four countries and attuned tools to each phase of the process.
The Toolkit is meant to guide the path of various actors towards higher level of integration, while keeping in mind that the entire early childhood system (from macro policy to financing and front line quality delivery with qualified practitioners) has to work primarily for the benefit of every young child and their family.