A much-awaited Government report: ‘The best start for life: a vision for the 1,001 critical days’, has been published this week.
Developed as part of the early years healthy development review, the document outlines six areas for action to improve the health outcomes of all babies in England.
Our Supporting Children and Families theme co-lead, Professor Judith Rankin was a member of the review’s Academic Advisory Group – one of three advisory groups.
In this blog, she introduces the report and shares her reflections.
The early years – conception to two years of age, or the first 1001 days – is recognised as a critical period for a baby’s development. It is the time when lifelong building blocks are laid down.
Yet, for too long, we haven’t got this right. While support is provided to families by many committed professionals, services are not joined up and don’t necessarily deliver what families want, when they want it.
We need to do things differently and do them better. This new vision for the 1001 Critical Days has prevention at its heart, and confirms that parenting is a public health issue.
The report sets out six action areas, placing the baby at its centre, and is aimed at providing joined up, non-stigmatising care for all families no matter what their background.
The action areas are:
• Seamless support for new families
• A welcoming Hub for the family
• The information families need when they need it
• An empowered Start for Life workforce
• Continually improving the Start for Life offer
• Leadership for change
It was a real pleasure to join the academic advisory group and to contribute to their workshops. Andrea Leadsom MP led those workshops with passion and energy, and her commitment to this topic was clear.
There was a real sense at these that, this time, this work really could result in transformative actions.
However, setting actions is one thing, but implementing them is another and it is what happens next that will be key. I look forward to seeing this strategy put into practice. It will be complex, and it will take time, but I know there is a huge team of committed people working to make sure these actions are translated into real change.
I also know that in our region, with all the challenges that there are, we will work hard to support this vision.