Local and national government should resist the temptation to cut back on funding early-intervention projects, and prioritise spending on children’s centres and early years programmes, according to sector leaders.
The Centre for Excellence and Outcomes in Children and Young People’s Services (C4EO) said a compilation of best practice from around the nation – and further afield – was a “powerful body of research” in favour of targeted approaches.
Grasping the nettle: early intervention for children said that programmes promoting breastfeeding, children with speech, language and communication needs, parenting support, and young people on the edge of care ought to be areas of particular focus.
Kim Bromley-Derry, executive director for children and young people’s services at Newham LBC and chair of the C4EO early-intervention expert group, said the guide identified specific interventions that were proven to work.
“In order to sustain improvements, it is vital that these areas are acted on with urgency,” he said.
Association of Directors of Children’s Services vice president Matt Dunkley said that “simple steps” like making contact with expectant mothers to make them aware of the services available to them could have massive benefits.
“In many of the examples it is clear that this approach requires co-operation across services and professions,” he said.
Among the interventions cited in the guide are Leicester City Council’s Talk Matters programme, Barnardo’s Community Mums and Dads programme run at Reading BC, and Blackpool BC’s Springboard programme.