First 1,001 Days: Special Report

Amid deep cuts to early years support, policymakers and practitioners are calling on the government to place greater emphasis on funding prevention services targeted at children in the first 1,001 days.

The first 1,001 days of a child's life is a unique period of opportunity when the foundations are laid for optimum health, growth and cognitive, social and emotional development.

Ensuring children have the best health and care in the first 1,001 days can be an important protective factor in reducing poor outcomes later in life. For this reason, understanding the building blocks of early life and how the state can support and enhance the development of these has become an increasingly important issue for policymakers and campaigners.

There is strong evidence that support for parents-to-be and in the first two years of a child's life can help reduce the impact of trauma caused by neglect and social problems and improve attachment between mother and baby.

However, recent parliamentary inquiries have highlighted how austerity has led to deep cuts to many of the universal services that help families in the first 1,001 days, including health visiting, parenting support and children's centres. It comes as funding for early help provision is also being squeezed by the recent rise in demand for crisis services.

Parliamentarians have called for the government to redress the balance, so more money is targeted at support for the youngest children, and a cross-ministerial working group has been commissioned by the Prime Minister to develop a strategy for making this happen.

CYP Now's special report on the first 1,001 days summarises findings from latest research on the issue, analyses key policy developments and highlights four examples of impactful practice in supporting young children.

Click on each link for more:

First 1,001 Days: Policy context

Research evidence:

The Impact on Child Outcomes of Providing a Parenting Intervention Alongside Treatment for Post-natal Depression

The Impact of Neglect on Brain Development

Shared Picture Book Reading and Language Development

Supporting Parents and Infants Through the Healthy Child Programme

Practice examples:

Liverpool service enhances parent-child attachment

Peer-support schemes build mothers' confidence

FNP cuts smoking and raises breastfeeding rates

Scheme helps new parents take the leap to get support

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