Beyond the Building: focusing on the foundation years

Bringing together antenatal and early years services could boost children’s chances.

Our children’s centre briefing series presents recommendations on how centres can deal with the challenges they face. 

The earliest years in a child’s life are crucial to their development and future prospects. By supporting parents through pregnancy and the early years, we can lay strong foundations of emotional resilience, good health and readiness for school. In the longer-term, this approach could improve adults’ chances of building positive relationships, finding work and becoming good parents themselves.

 Key Findings

  • Over half of children’s centres say they work largely with parents of children aged under five
  • Three quarters of staff want to do more work with expectant parents.

Our recommendations

  • Local authorities should take a ‘foundation years first’ approach to children’s centres – prioritising resources to help give all children the best start in life.
  • The Department for Education should introduce an outcomes framework for children’s centres that focuses on child development in the foundation years – bringing clarity and consistency of purpose.
  • Health visitors should be based in children’s centres – improving early identification of problems through their universal contact with families.
  • Children’s centres should be used as a hub for antenatal services – bringing expectant parents into centres that can offer extra support where needed.

If you have any questions or queries, please email [email protected].

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