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Early language development must be prioritised to close gap between children in low-income and better-off households

Press Releases   •   Sep 18, 2017 15:00 BST

Press release: embargo for 00:01, Wednesday 27 September

New research published by the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) highlights the impact of family economic circumstances and disadvantage on a child’s ability to learn all the skills of speech, language and communication. It calls for early language development to be prioritised as a child wellbeing indicator, on a par with vaccination, obesity and mental health.

Early language acquisition impacts on all aspects of young children’s non-physical development. It contributes to their ability to manage emotions and communicate feelings, to establish and maintain relationships, to think symbolically, and to learn to read and write. While the majority of young children acquire language effortlessly, a significant minority do not.

Multiple studies have shown that income-related gaps in children’s language are detectable by the age of 18 months, and often become bigger throughout children’s early development. The UK prevalence rate for early language difficulties is between 5% and 8% of all children, and over 20% for those growing up in low-income households.

The evidence suggests that children living in better-off families will hear many more words from their parents than less well-off children, and that their parents are more likely to use more complex language, to ask children more questions, and to engage in verbal activities such as sharing a book or playing rhyming games.

The impact of this gap persists: language capabilities at age 3 are predictive of language capabilities at age 9.

Income-related gaps continue to increase once children enter school, where the evidence shows that a child’s economic situation may have a greater impact on their language development than their ability to learn. Over the course of primary school, the language skills of better-off children catch up and surpass the skills of less well-off children who started with higher achievement scores.

By the end of secondary school, better-off children consistently complete more GCSEs and attain higher scores.

Because language and communication skills are so essential for school education and achievement, and future employment prospects, allowing less well-off children to fall behind in their language development risks undermining their life chances and perpetuating a cycle of disadvantage and poverty. The evidence shows that children with poor vocabulary skills at age 5 are more likely to have reading difficulties as an adult, more likely to have mental health problems, and more likely to be unemployed.

Dr Jo Casebourne, Chief Executive of EIF, says:

“Our research makes clear the consequences of failing to close these income-related gaps in language development: a whole group of children who will face unnecessary extra challenges in achieving good school results, entering employment, and maintaining good mental health into their adult lives. For this reason, supporting early language development should be put at the heart of any social mobility strategy.

“Crucially, the evidence shows that early intervention may be the most important of all: children whose home learning environment improves as they approach school age don’t see the same benefits as children who were receiving more stimulation and interaction at an earlier age. The first three years are critical – by the time a child starts school, the damage to their future prospects may already be done.”

To ensure children with language development problems do not fall through the cracks, EIF is calling for early language development to be prioritised as a child wellbeing indicator, so that it must be treated as a public health issue, like vaccination, obesity and mental health. This change would make it clear that language development problems have serious consequences and require additional support, even when they are not the result of acute or clinical disorders.

Dr Kirsten Asmussen, co-author of the paper and EIF expert on early child development, says:

“The income-related gap in children’s language development is not a new story. However, knowledge about the magnitude of this gap and ways of reducing it is. We believe that prioritising early language development as a national wellbeing indicator is a vital first step in putting this knowledge into action.”

To support this change, EIF also calls for:

  • More testing of the effectiveness of interventions designed to support or improve children’s language development.
  • Developing a shared terminology and criteria for identifying and describing language development problems, to enable effective monitoring and diagnosis, and a consistent response.
  • Greater clarity from local authorities and schools on what they are offering to parents of children with language development problems.

*ENDS

References:

Notes:

  • The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) is an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children, young people and their families, reduce hardship and improve value for money in the long run. As a member of the What Works network, EIF is dedicated to expanding and communicating the evidence-base related to early intervention in the UK. For more information, see: http://www.eif.org.uk/
  • The report is written by Professor James Law and Dr Jenna Charlton of Newcastle University in collaboration with Dr Kirsten Asmussen of EIF.

Contact:

Mark Ballinger
Head of Communications, EIF
E: mark.ballinger@eif.org.uk
T: 020 3542 2481 (switchboard)

New research published by EIF highlights the impact of family economic circumstances and disadvantage on a child’s ability to learn all the skills of speech, language and communication. It calls for early language development to be prioritised as a child wellbeing indicator, on a par with vaccination, obesity and mental health.

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New research: Popular social work practices must be evaluated to ensure they are working to protect children

Press Releases   •   Jun 21, 2017 10:00 BST

Press release: embargo for 00:01, Friday 23 June

New research published by the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) and Local Government Association (LGA) highlights the lack of evidence underpinning some of the practices and approaches that are widely used in the child protection system.1 In the absence of evidence to demonstrate that activities are improving outcomes for children and families, it is difficult to be sure that child protection services are producing good results or providing value for money.

The report argues that, with demand for services increasing rapidly and pressure growing on local budgets, stronger central action is urgently required to help councils evaluate and monitor whether the services they deliver are improving outcomes for children and families and providing value for money.

The study also identifies a number of interventions with proven results that have not been widely publicised or implemented. It highlights the need for more central action to provide clear messages about which approaches have a good track record and which have not been tested that can be used by local councils to inform their work with vulnerable families.

Carey Oppenheim, Chief Executive of EIF, says:

“There is a striking gap between what we know works to protect children and support vulnerable families, and what is happening in our child protection system right now. At a time of shrinking budgets and increasing demand, it is particularly important to use the evidence to ensure scarce resources are directed towards interventions with the greatest chance of success.

"Evidence is not the only consideration in how local authorities decide what services to deliver. Nevertheless, on balance, families and children who receive interventions shown through robust methods to improve outcomes are more likely to benefit and to a greater degree than those who receive other services.”

Reducing this gap between evidence and local decision-making requires stronger centrally co-ordinated activity to:

  • Supporting the use of evidence by clearly communicating what the evidence tells us.
  • Help build ‘evidence literacy’ among local leaders, commissioners and practitioners.
  • Fill crucial gaps in evidence, for example by robustly evaluating the effectiveness of multi-agency models of working, and developing and testing new approaches to tackling child neglect.  
  • Provide investment and resources to rebuild the analytical capacity that has been pared back in many local areas.

Donna Molloy, Director of Dissemination at EIF and one of the report authors, says:

“It is of concern that many local authorities lack the capacity to monitor whether the things they are delivering are working to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children. In both early intervention and children’s social care the lack of analytical resource to understand the nature of local demand, and use the evidence to meet this demand, needs tackling if we are to see a shift in the use of evidence to improve effectiveness in child protection work.

“We also rely too much on evidence from overseas in the UK and need to grow the UK evidence base about effective children’s and family services by investing in evaluation of interventions and approaches that are being delivered here. This needs central investment and input and the Government’s planned What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care provides an important opportunity to provide central infrastructure that is needed here.”

Richard Watts, Chair of the Children and Young People Board at the LGA, said:

“Councils are committed to providing the best possible care for children and their families, but the sector urgently needs more support to understand whether the services we provide are consistently improving outcomes for some of our most vulnerable people.

“The scale of the challenge facing councils is clearly evidenced in this report. In the last decade, central government funding has significantly reduced whilst the number of children on child protection plans has increased 124 per cent between 2002 and 2015. By 2020, councils are expecting a £2 billion funding gap to open in children’s services. The reality for many councils is that right now they are struggling to provide the essential services and simply lack the capacity to robustly evaluate the impact of different approaches.

“The Government’s proposed What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care provides a valuable opportunity to fill this gap at national level, but it is vital that this also provides capacity to boost local learning and evaluation. Councils need to understand what will work in their area, for the specific children and families they are working with and within the resources available to them. It is not always possible or practical to simply transfer a seemingly effective service from an inner city area to a rural county region, and we should not attempt to provide a centrally-focussed, one size fits all solution to the notion of “what works”.

“It is more important than ever that we better understand how to target resources to ensure they are used effectively. But with services for the care and protection of vulnerable children already at breaking point in many areas, government must recognise that additional investment is urgently required to ensure vulnerable children get the appropriate support and protection they need.”

*ENDS

Contact:

Donna Molloy

Director of Dissemination, EIF

E: donna.molloy@eif.org.uk

T: 020 3542 2481 (switchboard)

References:

  1. An overview of the EIF/LGA project on improving the child protection system is available at: http://www.eif.org.uk/publication/improving-the-effectiveness-of-the-child-protection-system-overview (from 00:01 Fri 23 June). Copies are available in advance, on request.

Notes:

  • The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) is an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children, young people and their families, reduce hardship and improve value for money in the long run. As a member of the What Works network, EIF is dedicated to expanding and communicating the evidence-base related to early intervention in the UK. For more information, see: http://www.eif.org.uk/
  • This project on improving the effectiveness of the child protection system was conducted by EIF in collaboration with the LGA and supported by the NSPCC, Research inPractice, and the DepartmentofSocialPolicyandIntervention at the UniversityofOxford.

New research published by the EIF and LGA highlights the lack of evidence underpinning some of the practices and approaches that are widely used in the child protection system. In the absence of evidence to demonstrate that activities are improving outcomes for children and families, it is difficult to be sure that child protection services are producing good results or providing value for money.

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New research: Tackling conflict between parents is a crucial priority for early intervention designed to protect children from the impacts of economic stress

Press Releases   •   Apr 26, 2017 15:00 BST

Press release: embargo for 00:01, Friday 28 April
Issued: Wednesday 26 April 2017

New research published by the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF), in collaboration with Professor Gordon Harold from the University of Sussex, affirms the link between a family’s experience of poverty or economic pressure, parental conflict and an increased risk of long-term negative outcomes for children. This finding, combined with new qualitative research highlighting the barriers to accessing relationship support for families experiencing economic stress suggests that those who may benefit most from this kind of support may be least likely to receive it.

EIF sets out strong evidence that poverty and economic pressure increase the risk that parents experience psychological distress, such as anxiety or depression, which is associated with difficulties in the relationship between parents and in the parent-child relationship, and ultimately with long-term negative impacts on children, such as poor mental health or reduced academic attainment.1

28% of children in workless couple-parent families live with parents who report having a distressed relationship. This is almost three times greater than is reported where both parents are working.2

Supporting parental relationships and tackling conflict between parents – regardless of whether they are living together or not – has the potential to improve outcomes for children later in life. However, a range of barriers to accessing relationship support services exist – including the availability of services, cost, and perceived stigma – and EIF shows that these barriers may be greatest for low-income and other hard-to-reach families.

Carey Oppenheim, chief executive at EIF, says:

“Improving the quality of parents’ relationships and helping them to reduce and resolve conflict must be an important part of early intervention designed to protect children from the long-term consequences of living with poverty and economic stress. We need existing services to support parental relationships as well as other types of family and parenting support, in order to address the multiple challenges of worklessness, economic pressure and family stress in a holistic way.”

EIF highlights that relationship support services in the UK are under-developed and under-resourced.3 EIF identifies 13 programmes which focus on the parental and parent–child relationship, some of which have been shown to have positive effects on outcomes for children in poverty. There is a clear need to grow and invest in relationship support provision, to diversify the range of types of intervention provided, and to test the effectiveness of new and existing interventions, whether developed in the UK or imported from other countries.

Tom McBride, director of evidence at EIF, says:

“Evidence indicates that the context of economic pressure can disrupt the inter-parental relationship, which in turn impacts on couples’ parenting abilities and ultimately on long-term outcomes for children. There are overseas interventions which recognise this link and provide effective support to families under economic pressure. However, the UK evidence-base on how relationship support can improve child outcomes is less developed, creating a valuable opportunity for policymakers and practitioners to identify and test new approaches.”

There are interventions which have evidence of effectiveness in supporting parental relationships and conflict resolution that could be delivered more widely. EIF recommends that:

  • A new focus on parental relationships should be embedded in existing family services, such as early help services, services for troubled families, children’s centres or health visiting, to reduce barriers and reach families early, before problems become more deeply entrenched.
  • Crucial ‘transition points’ – such having a child for the first time, a child’s transition to primary or secondary school or facing the prospect of losing work or experiencing poverty – should be targeted to prevent future problems.
  • The potential of interventions that support couple relationships alongside parenting and other skills, such as problem-solving and coping techniques, to reduce the negative impacts of poverty and worklessness should be explored further.

Previous EIF research has highlighted that the quality of the inter-parental relationship – the relationship between parents, irrespective of the family structure or couple status – is a primary influence on children’s long-term wellbeing, mental health and life chances. In particular, experiencing sustained, intense and unresolved conflict between parents is associated with poorer long-term outcomes for children, including health and economic outcomes as an adult.4

*ENDS

References:

  1. EIF’s review of ‘what works’ to support families in poverty is available at: http://www.eif.org.uk/publication/inter-parental-conflict-and-outcomes-for-children-in-the-contexts-of-poverty-and-economic-pressure (from 00:01 Fri 28 April). Copies are available in advance, on request. This research was conducted by EIF with Professor Gordon Harold and the University of Sussex, as part of a programme of work on early intervention and poverty, in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).
  2. ‘Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families Analysis and Research Pack’, available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/605989/analysis-research-pack-improving-lives-helping-workless-families-web-version.pdf
  3. EIF’s review of current UK family support provision in five areas is available at: http://www.eif.org.uk/publication/exploring-parental-relationship-support-a-qualitative-study (from 00:01 Fri 28 April). Copies are available in advance, on request. This research was conducted by researchers from NatCen, commissioned by EIF as part of a programme of work on early intervention and poverty, in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).
  4. See EIF report, What Works to Enhance Inter-Parental Relationships and Improve Outcomes for Children? (March 2016): http://www.eif.org.uk/publication/what-works-to-enhance-inter-parental-relationships-and-improve-outcomes-for-children-3/

Notes:

  • The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) is an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children, young people and their families, reduce hardship and improve value for money in the long run. As a member of the What Works network, EIF is dedicated to expanding and communicating the evidence-base related to early intervention in the UK. For more information, see: http://www.eif.org.uk/
  • An overview of EIF’s work on early intervention and poverty is available at: http://www.eif.org.uk/publication/interparental-relationships-conflict-and-the-impacts-of-poverty-an-overview (from 00:01 Fri 28 April). Copies are available in advance, on request.
  • Information on a range of evidence-based programmes, including parenting and family interventions, is available via the EIF Guidebook: http://guidebook.eif.org.uk/

Contact:

Mark Ballinger
Head of Communications, EIF
E: mark.ballinger@eif.org.uk
T: 020 3542 2481 (switchboard)

New research affirms the link between a family’s experience of poverty or economic pressure, parental conflict and an increased risk of long-term negative outcomes for children. This finding, combined with new qualitative research highlighting the barriers to accessing relationship support, suggests that those who may benefit most from this kind of support may be least likely to receive it.

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Early Intervention Foundation appoints new trustee

Press Releases   •   Oct 18, 2017 11:00 BST

Press notice: for immediate release

The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) has appointed a new trustee to its board: Martin Pilgrim.

Martin Pilgrim is a former chief executive of London Councils, the body which brings together London’s local authorities, and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. He is currently a trustee of the Family and Childcare Trust, the Young Women’s Trust (formerly YWCA) and the Diana Award.

Martin Pilgrim will fill the role of treasurer for EIF.

Two longstanding EIF trustees, Jeremy Hardie and Martyn Jones, have stepped down from the board.

Martin Pilgrim, EIF trustee, says:

"I am delighted to become a trustee for the Early Intervention Foundation. I am committed to improving the lives of disadvantaged families and young people. Early intervention has a crucial role to play in addressing so many of the pressures facing families and communities today, and I am thrilled to be able to support EIF in their excellent work in this area."

Dame Clare Tickell, EIF chair of trustees, says:

“We are very pleased to welcome Martin to our team. He brings a wealth of experience to the board, and a broad perspective on both public policy and local government. We look forward to working with Martin to maintain EIF’s influence and operational effectiveness. At the same time, I must record my thanks and the organisation’s gratitude to Jeremy and Martyn, who have provided outstanding oversight and leadership during EIF’s formative years.”

The appointment is effective from 16 October 2017.

*ENDS

Contact:

Mark Ballinger
Head of Communications, EIF
E: mark.ballinger@eif.org.uk
T: 020 3542 2481 (switchboard)

Notes:

  • The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) is an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children, young people and their families, reduce hardship and improve value for money in the long run. As a member of the What Works network, EIF is dedicated to expanding and communicating the evidence-base related to early intervention in the UK. For more information, see: http://www.eif.org.uk/

The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) has appointed a new trustee to its board: Martin Pilgrim.

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Press note: Early Intervention Foundation CEO comments on LGA's 'Brighter Futures' plan for children

Press Releases   •   Oct 11, 2017 08:30 BST

Statement: for immediate release

In response to the publication today of the Local Government Association’s Brighter Futures plan, Dr Jo Casebourne, chief executive of the Early Intervention Foundation, an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children, young people and their families, says:

"We welcome the LGA’s focus on improving understanding of 'what works' so councils and their partners are able to provide the right support for children at the right time. Early intervention can make a difference to outcomes for children but only if it is evidence-based, well implemented and carefully matched to the specific needs of a child or family.

"EIF research has highlighted the lack of evidence underpinning some of the practices and approaches that are widely used in both early help and the child protection system. As the LGA’s plan rightly highlights, more support is required to ensure that approaches which may be innovative, but are not yet well evidenced, can be robustly evaluated. We need to develop the UK evidence about what works for whom and when, and to fill the gaps in the available evidence about how best to respond to some of the issues driving demand on children’s services. 

"We look forward to working with the LGA and others to develop and disseminate the evidence about what works for children."

*ENDS

Notes:

  • The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) is an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children, young people and their families, reduce hardship and improve value for money in the long run. As a member of the What Works network, EIF is dedicated to expanding and communicating the evidence base related to early intervention in the UK. For more information, see: http://www.eif.org.uk/
  • For more information on challenges and next steps in improving the child protection system, see Improving the effectiveness of the child protection system: Overviewhttp://www.eif.org.uk/publication/improving-the-effectiveness-of-the-child-protection-system-overview/

Contact:

Mark Ballinger
EIF Head of Communications
E: mark.ballinger@eif.org.uk
T: 020 3542 2481 (switchboard)

Dr Jo Casebourne, chief executive of the Early Intervention Foundation, comments on today's launch of the 'Brighter Futures' plan for children's services by the Local Government Association (LGA).

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Press note: Early Intervention CEO comments on 'Manifesto for Strengthening Families'

Press Releases   •   Sep 06, 2017 10:24 BST

Statement: for immediate release

Commenting on today's launch of a 'Manifesto for Strengthening Families' by a group of MPs and peers, Jo Casebourne, chief executive of the Early Intervention Foundation, an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children, young people and their families, says:

“We welcome the spotlight this manifesto shines on the impact that the quality of the relationship between parents has on their children’s wellbeing. The evidence is clear that a child’s mental health and long-term life chances are at risk if they are growing up with parents engaged in frequent, intense and poorly resolved conflict, regardless of whether their parents are together or separated.

“In these kinds of situation, boosting children’s long-term wellbeing means that parental conflict needs to be addressed as part of wider early intervention efforts.

“We share the ambition to ensure that parental relationship support is an accessible part of local services, so that couples are able to get help early.”

*ENDS

Notes:

  • The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) is an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children, young people and their families, reduce hardship and improve value for money in the long run. As a member of the What Works network, EIF is dedicated to expanding and communicating the evidence base related to early intervention in the UK. For more information, see: http://www.eif.org.uk/
  • For more information on the impact of the relationship between parents, see EIF's 2017 report, Interparental relationships, conflict and the impacts of poverty: An overviewhttp://www.eif.org.uk/publication/interparental-relationships-conflict-and-the-impacts-of-poverty-an-overview/

Contact:

Mark Ballinger
EIF Head of Communications
E: mark.ballinger@eif.org.uk
T: 020 3542 2481 (switchboard)

Jo Casebourne, chief executive of the Early Intervention Foundation, comments on today's launch of a 'Manifesto for Strengthening Families' by a group of MPs and peers.

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Early Intervention Foundation appoints two new trustees

Press Releases   •   Jun 05, 2017 09:00 BST

Press notice: for immediate release

The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) has appointed two new trustees to its board: Ben Lucas and Ryan Shorthouse.

Ben Lucas is a founding director and managing director of Metro Dynamics. Previously, Ben served as Chair of Public Services at the RSA, where he set up and directed the Commission on 2020 Public Services and the City Growth Commission.

Ryan Shorthouse is founder and chief executive of Bright Blue. Ryan is an expert on education and social policy and a political commentator, and has previously held research posts at the Social Market Foundation and for Rt Hon David Willetts MP.

Dame Clare Tickell, EIF chair of trustees, says:

“We are very pleased to welcome two new trustees to our team. Between them, Ben and Ryan bring a wealth of experience and insight, broadening the skills among our board members and providing new perspectives on EIF’s work and it’s potential to achieve change in the real world. We look forward to working with them both.”

Ben Lucas, EIF trustee, says:

"I am very excited by the opportunity to join EIF in its mission to support effective, evidence-based early intervention for children and families across the UK. The early intervention approach is one that is increasingly important for local authorities and services to understand and enact, and I think EIF has a vital role in helping local leaders and decision-makers to do just that."

Ryan Shorthouse, EIF trustee, says:

"I am delighted to become a trustee for the Early Intervention Foundation, an organisation I have supported since its creation. I believe the Early Intervention Foundation is of critical importance to improving the value and impact of the support and services that children at risk need to live flourishing lives."

The appointments are effective from 31 May 2017.

*ENDS

Contact:

Mark Ballinger
Head of Communications, EIF
E: mark.ballinger@eif.org.uk
T: 020 3542 2481 (switchboard)

Notes:

  • The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) is an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children, young people and their families, reduce hardship and improve value for money in the long run. As a member of the What Works network, EIF is dedicated to expanding and communicating the evidence-base related to early intervention in the UK. For more information, see: http://www.eif.org.uk/

​The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) has appointed two new trustees to its board: Ben Lucas and Ryan Shorthouse.

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Early Intervention Foundation appoints new chief executive

Press Releases   •   May 10, 2017 10:00 BST

Press release: embargo for 10:00, Thursday 11 May
Issued: Wednesday 10 May

The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) has appointed Dr Jo Casebourne as its new chief executive. Casebourne will take up the post in August.

Jo Casebourne is currently Director of Development at the Institute for Government, leading the institute’s work on public services, and has previously served as Director of Public and Social Innovation at Nesta and Director of Research at the Centre for Economic & Social Inclusion. She succeeds Carey Oppenheim, who has been EIF chief executive since 2013.

Dame Clare Tickell, EIF chair, says:

“We are very pleased to welcome Jo to the Early Intervention Foundation. Jo has tremendous enthusiasm for our work, and impressed us with her understanding of the issues and opportunities facing the organisation at this important time. Carey Oppenheim has done a fantastic job building EIF over the last four years, and we are delighted to have found someone as impressive as Jo, who will be able to take that legacy forwards with such skill.”

Jo Casebourne says:

“I am delighted to be joining the Early Intervention Foundation as its new chief executive. At such an important time for early intervention, EIF has a crucial role to play in working with others across the sector to ensure our strong evidence base supports children and families showing signs of risk. I look forward to working with trustees and the expert and talented staff team to champion the use of effective early intervention in this next phase of EIF’s development.”

Casebourne’s appointment will be announced at EIF’s national conference, taking place in London this week.

The EIF national conference is a landmark event for the UK early intervention sector, bringing together more than 250 policymakers, commissioners, local leaders and practitioners to share knowledge and experiences of how to develop and support effective early intervention. This year’s event features a keynote address from new President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), Alison Michalska, and a line-up of expert speakers from across national and local government, health and wellbeing, education and relationship support.

Members of the press who wish to attend and cover the EIF conference are invited to contact Mark Ballinger, EIF head of communications (details below).

*ENDS

Contact:

Mark Ballinger
Head of Communications, EIF
E: mark.ballinger@eif.org.uk
T: 020 3542 2481 (switchboard)

Notes:

  • The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) is an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children, young people and their families, reduce hardship and improve value for money in the long run. As a member of the What Works network, EIF is dedicated to expanding and communicating the evidence-base related to early intervention in the UK. For more information, see: http://www.eif.org.uk/
  • The EIF National Conference takes place on Thursday 11 May, at the Royal College of Physicians in London. The agenda and full speaker list for the EIF National Conference is available online, at: https://www.inroleme.com/ehome/eif2017/200391447/
  • Updates throughout the day will be available on Twitter, via #EIFNatCon

Press release: embargo for 10:00, Thursday 11 May ​Issued: Wednesday 10 May The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) has appointed Dr Jo Casebourne as its new chief executive. Casebourne will take up the post in August.

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Press note: Alison Michalska, new ADCS President, to deliver keynote speech at Early Intervention Foundation national conference

Press Releases   •   May 02, 2017 10:00 BST

Alison Michalska will deliver the keynote address at the Early Intervention Foundation national conference, Thursday 11 May, in central London. Alison Michalska is Corporate Director for Children and Adults at Nottingham City Council, and became President of the Association for Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) in April 2017.

The national conference of the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) is the landmark annual event for early intervention in the UK. Early intervention is an increasingly prominent agenda across many areas of social policy, including health, education, early years, policing and family support. Conference sessions will tackle important questions around early intervention and social mobility, vulnerable children, the integration of local services, the importance of parental relationships, and the role of evidence in service commissioning and practice.

Writing in the MJ in April, Alison Michalska says:

“The benefits of [early intervention] are clear: supporting children and families before problems reach crisis point, rather than the need for more costly interventions at a later stage. This will not be an easy undertaking, but somehow, supported by our elected members, we need to reapportion our money to invest more in preventative work to reduce demand on statutory services and improve outcomes in the long run.”

Members of the press who wish to attend and cover the EIF conference are invited to contact:

Mark Ballinger
Head of Communications, EIF
E: mark.ballinger@eif.org.uk
T: 020 3542 2481 (switchboard)

*ENDS

Alison Michalska will deliver the keynote address at the Early Intervention Foundation national conference, Thursday 11 May, in central London. Members of the press who wish to attend and cover the conference are invited to contact EIF.

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Early Intervention Foundation welcomes government’s fresh focus on evidence-based family support

Press Releases   •   Apr 04, 2017 10:17 BST

Statement: for immediate release

The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) welcomes the government’s fresh focus on evidence-based family support interventions, as set out in the paper published today by DWP.

Improving lives: Helping workless families highlights the importance of evidence-based interventions designed to address the multiple and overlapping disadvantages experienced by workless families and the significantly poorer outcomes faced by their children. The government has taken the welcome and essential step of embedding this fresh focus on evidence-based interventions into plans for the next phase of the Troubled Families programme.

--------------------------------

On new support for the parental relationship

Today’s announcements reflect a growing recognition of the importance of the relationship between parents for their children’s future wellbeing.

Previous EIF research with Professor Gordon Harold from the University of Sussex has confirmed that the quality of the relationship between parents has a significant impact on longer-term outcomes for a child’s mental health, achievement and wellbeing. Intense and unresolved conflict between parents is an especially significant negative factor.1 Ongoing EIF research confirms that families who are experiencing financial pressures or poverty are more likely to experience relationship conflict and less likely to access support services.2 By investing in proven parental conflict provision – regardless of family structure – this government announcement has the potential to improve outcomes for children in families experiencing worklessness.

Carey Oppenheim, EIF chief executive, says:

“We are familiar with interventions designed to support the adult couple relationship, and with other interventions designed to support parenting. Today’s announcement marks an essential and long overdue shift to focusing on the benefits for children’s development and wellbeing that can come from effective family support interventions.”

Professor Gordon Harold, University of Sussex, says:

“This announcement builds on the very latest UK-led research highlighting how the interparental relationship, whether parents are living together or not, significantly affects children's mental health across all ages. Supporting parents early will pay significant long-term dividends for children and future families, with a particular focus on supporting the needs of parents and children who experience economic disadvantage.”

The quality of the relationship between parents is not typically a focal point in many services that work with families, and despite the best efforts of the relationship support sector, it is an area where interventions are underdeveloped in the UK. EIF welcomes the government’s commitment to ensure funding is available for evaluation and testing new approaches.

Tom McBride, EIF director of evidence, says:

“There is strong evidence on the link between couple relationships and children's mental health. It is crucial that we build on this research. The government’s announcement provides a real opportunity to grow the UK evidence base on how couple relationship support can be used to improve outcomes for children.”

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On proposed changes to the Troubled Families programme

It is a key lesson from the evaluation of the first Troubled Families programme that interventions commissioned as part of the programme must be evaluated, and that evidence based on these evaluations isshared openly and reflected in policy.

Through our research, we know that interventions exist that have been shown, through robust evaluation methods, to improve outcomes for families with characteristics similar to the Troubled Families cohort. It is important that information about these programmes and practices is made available, and that they are used, because they are more likely to be effective than other approaches.

Tom McBride, EIF director of evidence, says:

“In our view, the government will only deliver on the objectives of the Troubled Families programme if they make best use of evidence. This announcement signals a welcome commitment to commissioning evidence-based programmes, thereby maximising the likelihood that outcomes for vulnerable families will be improved, while also delivering value for money to the taxpayer.”

Improving and expanding family support available through the Troubled Families programme is not a sufficient response to the challenge of reducing worklessness or financial stress, but it can provide an essential protection to reduce the impacts of worklessness and poverty on children in affected families.

Carey Oppenheim, EIF chief executive, says:

“In terms of support for vulnerable families, interventions to address parental conflict have been largely absent from national policy and local plans. The evidence shows that the quality of the relationship between parents has a critical influence on how children fare now and in the future. It is a real step forward that family conflict will be a priority area in the next phase of the Troubled Families programme.”

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Notes:

  • The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) is an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children, young people and their families, reduce hardship and improve value for money in the long run. As a member of the What Works network, EIF is dedicated to expanding and communicating the evidence base related to early intervention in the UK. For more information, see: http://www.eif.org.uk/
  • Information on a range of evidence-based programmes, including parenting and family interventions, is available via the EIF Guidebook: http://guidebook.eif.org.uk/
  • As part of its work, EIF has provided a summary of the available evidence on family support interventions to DCLG.

References:

  1. EIF report, What Works to Enhance Inter-Parental Relationships and Improve Outcomes for Children? (March 2016): http://www.eif.org.uk/publication/what-works-to-enhance-inter-parental-relationships-and-improve-outcomes-for-children-3/
  2. Current EIF research, conducted with Professor Gordon Harold and the University of Sussex, as part of a programme of work on early intervention and poverty, in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). Summary findings are available on request.

Contact:

Mark Ballinger
EIF Head of Communications
E: mark.ballinger@eif.org.uk
T: 020 3542 2481 (switchboard)

Statement: for immediate release The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) welcomes the government’s fresh focus on evidence-based family support interventions, as set out in the paper published today by DWP.

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About Early Intervention Foundation

EIF is an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children, young people and their families, reduce hardship and improve value for money in the long run.

Address

  • Early Intervention Foundation
  • 10 Salamanca Place
  • SE1 7HB London
  • United Kingdom

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