‘Prioritise early years spending’ urges DH report

A government commissioned report on health inequalities post 2010 has recommended early years spending should be prioritised above other children’s services.

Fair Society, Healthy Lives a review by Sir Michael Marmot, commissioned by the Department of Health, has recommended increasing the money spent on pre and post-natal care including models of intensive home visiting by nurses and social workers to all families with children under the age of three, and assessed as needing additional support.

This key-worker support should be available throughout the pre-school years alongside extra investment in evidence-based parenting programmes.

“Investment in parenting support needs to be accompanied by measures to ensure that programmes are consistently delivered to the level of quality shown to have the best results,” the report stated.

Marmot also said there should be more social workers and highly skilled staff working in early years settings. “If we are serious about giving priority to supporting families and children in the early years, much more needs to be done to increase numbers and raise the quality and status of the workforce.”

The report also recommending ensuring disadvantaged children were enrolled in high quality pre-school programmes, which had been proven to promote mental health more than high quality primary education, and introducing a full year of paid parental leave, after a baby was born, to increase bonding between parents and children and prevent family breakdown in future years.

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