Effective interagency collaboration for babies and young children who require on-going support from plural agencies, services and practitioners is very often an aspiration rather than a reality.
In the author's experience, a major limiting factor in achieving joint working can be the reluctance of professionals to work outside the confines and security of their employing agency – valid reluctance if they fear entering a no-man's land with no standards or accountability in which they could become exposed and vulnerable if something goes wrong.
In an attempt to address this impasse, this essay draws a distinction between traditional vertically organised agencies, (e.g. health, education, social care) and the horizontal landscape that professionals enter when they work with others outside their particular agency.
This horizontal landscape becomes a new workplace that must be carefully designed and managed to train, support, oversee and protect local professionals and the children and families they are helping.
The horizontal landscape has, inevitably, a flattened power structure rather than hierarchical management and so becomes a space in which the parent and older child's voice is more clearly heard.
This essay is available free internationally as a PDF