Early Intervention

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Building their essential social and emotional capabilities means children are less likely to adopt antisocial or violent behavior throughout life. It means fewer disruptive toddlers, fewer unmanageable school children, fewer young people engaging in crime and antisocial behavior. Early intervention can forestall the physical and mental health problems that commonly perpetuate a cycle of dysfunction.”
Graham Allen Early Intervention: The Next Steps

We are all clear – Early Intervention is essential


young children walking Reviews conducted by:


…are all united in their call for early intervention. Read their reviews to find out more.


As a professional working with children and families in the foundation years, you need to use all your interactions to identify additional needs and offer or signpost to the help required.


From September 2012 there is a requirement on all practitioners delivering the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)  to give parents a written summary of their child’s progress against the prime areas of learning around the age of 2 to 3 years.  It is the government’s intention that over a period of time this summary will be integrated with the Healthy Child Programme review.


Reflective question:


How will you share the summary of children’s progress in learning and development with parents?


Early intervention is at the heart of the new core purpose of Sure Start Children’s Centres. The Green Paper Support and Aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability places an emphasis on early identification and intervention to improve outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.


Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability


In March 2011, Sarah Teather MP, Minister of State for Children and Families, set out the government’s vision for reforming the existing system of support for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) or who are disabled, and their families, in England.


The green paper Support and Aspiration reflects many of the issues and suggestions that were raised by disabled children and young people, their families and the professionals who work with them following a call for views in September 2010.


The green paper makes wide-ranging proposals to respond to a current system that is not effectively joined up, and as a result families with disabled children are forced to ‘battle the system’.


In summary, the green paper proposes:


  • A new approach to identifying SEN through a single early years setting-based category and school-based category of SEN;
  • A new single assessment process and Education, Health and Care Plan by 2014;
  • Local authorities and other services will set out a ‘local offer’ of all services available;
  • The option of a personal budget by 2014 for all families with children with a statement of SEN or a new Education, Health and Care Plan;
  • To give parents a real choice of school, either a mainstream or special school; and
  • To introduce greater independence to the assessment of children’s needs.


In September 2011 the government announced 20 pathfinders, covering 31 local authorities and their Primary Care Trust partners, to test out the main proposals in the Green Paper. Read more here.

The green paper also set out a vision for more effective use of the expertise in the voluntary and community sectors (VCS) in delivering services for children with SEN, disabled children and their families. In doing so it set out ambitions for VCS involvement at a local level as well as acting as catalysts for change nationally. A suite of contracts which support the delivery of SEN and disability policy include:


  • Parent Participation
  • Preparing for adulthood (TBC)
  • Parent partnership services (TBC)
  • Short breaks (TBC)
  • Early support and key working (TBC)


The Department for Education has appointed a Strategic Partner for SEN and Disability, the Council for Disabled Children, to build capacity in the VCS sector and to provide the Department with advice about the SEN and disability sector. Read more here.


Integrated Working


It is recognised that for early intervention to be successful, integrated working between professionals is essential. Pilot work is going on in a number of local authorities to explore the potential of early intervention budgets and community budgets.


Evidence Based Programmes


Important to Early Intervention are evidence based programmes:Early Intervention The Next Steps screenshot




  • Evidence from the Family Nurse Partnership Programme  is strong in that positive outcomes for the most vulnerable children and their families are improved by participating in the programme for two years. The government is extending this programme, which offers intensive and structured home visiting centred on attachment, relationships and healthier lifestyles, delivered by specially trained nurses.


Reflective questions:


How can you use evidence based interventions in your work?


How do you share the learning from evidence based programmes?


Share your successes in using evidence based programmes on this website by contacting foundations@4Children.org.uk

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