The Public Health Agency (PHA) today welcomed the publication of the Early Intervention: The Next Steps report. The report, by MP Graham Allen, aims to inform the government on how best to achieve the most effective approaches to early years development, particularly for children aged 0–3 years. It was requested by Prime Minister David Cameron in July 2010 and is the first of two to be published.
Describing the importance of this report, Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive, PHA, said: “The PHA acknowledges the contribution made by Graham Allen and Iain Duncan Smith through their published policy papers on critical early years interventions which are now being undertaken here in Northern Ireland.
“Graham Allen contributed to a seminar organised by the PHA almost a year ago. Since then the agency has been promoting the importance of early years interventions and has introduced the first Family Nurse Partnership programme, providing extensive nurse led support to first time mothers, aged 19 and below, in the Western HSC trust area.
“The agency has also worked with Belfast and South Eastern HSC trusts and local schools to introduce a second effective programme called Roots of Empathy which aims to build emotional wellbeing and resilience. This programme is also highlighted in the report.”
In the report, Mr Allen calls for a shift towards coordinated early years’ investments and evidence-based interventions, such as Family Nurse Partnerships (FNPs). This coordinated work should improve outcomes and life chances for families and children, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The report contains a number of key recommendations including implementation of 80 evidence based programmes such as FNPs and Roots of Empathy, a national parenting programme, regular assessments of all pre-school children and the establishment of an independent Early Years Foundation which would secure additional investment in early years’ programmes through non-governmental sources.
Dr Rooney added: “The PHA will continue to advocate for a shift in emphasis towards early prevention. The Family Nurse Partnership and Roots of Empathy programmes build on a wide range of early years services, delivered by the PHA in partnership with the statutory, voluntary a community sectors. They also complement other excellent programmes, such as Sure Start, all giving tangible support and benefits to children and their families in Northern Ireland.”
Contact PHA Press Office, Ormeau Avenue, on 028 9031 1611.
Notes to the editor
• The PHA has established a child health development board which has developed and supported a number of evidence-based early years’ interventions in Northern Ireland including FNPs and Roots of Empathy. Roots of Empathy is a primary school based programme that encourages emotional learning and empathy and has been shown to lead to a reduction in bullying and violence.
• The Early Intervention: The Next Steps report by Graham Allen can be downloaded from www.frankfield.co.uk