Johns, S, The rural school support in early childhood, Rural Child Health: International Aspects, Nova Science, E Bell and J Merrick (ed), New York, NY, pp. 21-32. ISBN 978-160876357-3 (2011) [Other Book Chapter]
The growing focus on early childhood intervention has seen a range of service providers enter the field. While research has been undertaken to inform the development of school-based models, very little focuses specifically on rural communities. Objective: The purpose of the study reported in this paper was to document the roles of rural schools in two Tasmanian sites in relation to the early years, and to identify factors that might influence the nature and extent of these schools' responses. The paper presents preliminary findings from the study. Study group: Interviews were conducted with three groups of participants from each site: (i) senior managers from government and non government agencies; (ii) staff from government, non government and community groups engaged in service provision, and (iii) a sample of parents of 0-4 year olds. Methods: This qualitative study uses multi-site, multi-method techniques, and a case study approach. Data were collected from three sources; interviews, written documentation, and observation. Data were analysed using NVivo data analysis software. Results: Rural schools support the early years in three main ways: service provision; brokering of services, and building capacity amongst service providers and the wider community. School activity is determined by the nature of the community and resource availability. Conclusions: By working collaboratively with other providers, rural schools contribute to the provision of a continuum of care and support for the early years. School contributions will be enhanced by an outward focus, an appreciation of the relative merits of other service providers, and dedicated funding.