‘Early Intervention: Smart Investment, Massive Savings’, the Second Independent Report to Her Majesty’s Government by Graham Allen MP, was published today.
Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Adviser at NCT, the UK’s largest charity for parents, said:
“NCT’s work with parents of children aged 0-2, and those expecting to become parents, has informed our knowledge of what is needed from statutory and other services for this group. The principle policy object set out by Graham Allen MP – that all babies and children ‘should have the social and emotional bedrock essential for their future development and their ability to make effective life choices’ – is exactly right. Parents are the best people to provide this bedrock, but they need support and reliable information to help them do their best, especially in the early months and years.
“We agree strongly that Government leadership and coordination must improve so that support from health, education, social services and other departments is integrated for parents. It is very positive to see the Allen report highlighting the importance of antenatal classes, breastfeeding support and professionals’ awareness of parents’ mental health around the birth of their baby, and we encourage action to be paid to these areas.
“While vulnerable families clearly need the most intensive support, we also ask that a universal service is available for all parents. Problems can arise at any time and an assessed level of risk does not always identify those who may struggle through isolation and poor mental health.
“Mr Allen proposes creative ways of funding investment in early years, which is commendable. His emphasis on ‘payment by results’ and measurement of outcomes is also an approach to be welcomed, although we urge that care is taken in determining appropriate measures as there needs to be a balance of short- and long-term evaluation of effectiveness.”