Andrea Leadsom has launched the long-awaited Early Years Healthy Development Review, which sets out a vision for improving babies’ healthy development and reducing inequalities in the first 1,001 days of life.Ms Leadsom’s recommendations, which were put before Government today (26 March), include a new ‘Start for Life’ package for prospective parents setting out a universal offer of health visiting, midwifery, breastfeeding and mental health support. Parents will be able to access these services from family hubs, similar to Labour’s Sure Start centres, which will also offer childcare, early education and healthcare, as well as advice on jobs and training.
This will be led by an ‘empowered, modern skilled’ Start for Life workforce, which will meet the changing needs of families with babies, looking at new ways to support and empower staff to increase retention of health visitors, Ms Leadsom said.
Launching the review, which has six key actions points based around ensuring families have access to the services they need and ensuring that the Start for Life system is working together to give families that support they need.
1. Seamless support for families: a coherent joined up Start for Life offer
available to all families.
2. A welcoming hub for families: Family Hubs as a place for families to access
Start for Life services.
3. The information families need when they need it: designing digital, virtual
and telephone offers around the needs of the family.
4. An empowered Start for Life workforce: developing a modern skilled
workforce to meet the changing needs of families.
5. Continually improving the Start for Life offer: improving data, evaluation,
outcomes and proportionate inspection.
6. Leadership for change: ensuring local and national accountability and building
the economic case.
Andrea Leadsom MP said, “I am confident that delivering this vision will help millions of families to give their baby the very best start for life. It sets out an ambitious programme of work to transform the support for families. Work to implement it will begin in the coming months. The goal is to ensure the best support throughout those 1,001 critical days, setting babies up to maximise their potential for lifelong emotional and physical well-being.”
Ms Leadsom will continue to chair the review and the implementation phase will take about a year.
The review acknowledges that getting things right for children in the first 1001 days holds the key to levelling up opportunities for those born in more deprived areas. Children living in households in the lowest socio-economic groups have significantly worse health outcomes than other children. These can be caused by stress and smoking in pregnancy, as well as communication problems due to language inequalities.
Annamarie Hassall, director of practice and programmes at the National Children’s Bureau, said, ‘Early years practitioners are some of the most undervalued professionals in the country. If we are serious about improving the lives of young children, we must make sure the early years workforce benefits from high quality professional development and access to the latest research and training.
‘Babies and very young children are too often overlooked by policymakers, but the past year has reminded us just how fragile their welfare is. Andrea Leadsom’s report points to the urgent improvements that are needed to support children during the vital period from conception to age two, including inclusive and accessible information for parents, more joined up services, and stronger leadership at local and national level.
‘The report asks the right questions but now we need to know that the Government is prepared to deliver the right answers. We welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to appoint a Cabinet level minister to see these reforms through, and their role will be crucial in bringing an often-fragmented system together. Attention must also turn to the Treasury, who must ensure these promises to parents are fully funded in the Comprehensive Spending Review.’
The review is available via Website Link
Source Nursery World