Welcome to the sixth A Better Start Southend Research Bulletin produced by Rachel Wood.

Here, we provide you with regular updates on the latest early years policy, practice and evidence, and how we are using these findings to influence our work here in Southend.

If you would like to sign up to receive these updates or have a question please email abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

Content:

Communication and language: Policy, evidence, practice

Early Years Health Issues in London

Eight things to remember about child development

Working with fathers of at-risk children

Risk and protective factors in early child development

Communication and language: Policy, evidence, practice

Title: Talking About a Generation: Current Policy, Evidence and Practice for Speech, Language and Communication

Research source: https://www.thecommunicationtrust.org.uk/resources/resources/resources-for-practitioners/talking-about-a-generation/

Publication date: February 2017

Authors: Gascoine, M. and Gross, J. Better Communication CIC (https://www.bettercommunication.org.uk/)

Our Summary

“Language is our tool for thinking and learning” (p11)

Talking About a Generation is a report from The Communication Trust, exploring the development of speech, language and communication skills in children and young people, and especially those who struggle to communicate. It highlights research showing:

  • By the age of five, 75% of children who experienced poverty persistently throughout the early years are below average in language development
  • Up to 50% of children starting school in the most disadvantaged areas will have speech, language and communication needs
  • In school-aged children the likelihood of being identified as having SLCN is 2.3 times greater for children eligible for free school meals and living in areas of disadvantage.
  • 6% of children in the early primary years will have developmental language disorder – that is two children in every classroom
  • Analysis shows that only 2.6% of children are identified by the SEND system.

The Communication Trust is calling for concerted action around identification of, and support for, speech, language and communication needs with 19 recommendations for government, commissioners, regulators and practitioners.

How we’re applying the research in Southend

* One of our core principles is that of prevention and early intervention.

* All of our communications and language programmes focus on the development of vocabulary and parent-child interactions.

* We support Wellcomm toolkit language screening for all children aged 23 months in A Better Start Southend wards.

Help us help Southend

* How can we engage more parents and carers and encourage them to take part in our communications and language programmes (e.g. “Let’s Talk with your Baby”)?

* How can we support the development of workforce programmes so that they include the latest evidence on communications and language in the early years?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

Early Years Health Issues in London

Title: Evidence base for a Healthy Early Years Programme in London

Research  source: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/evidence_base_for_a_healthy_early_years_programme_in_london_jan_2016.pdf

Publication date: 2016

Author: Winslade, C (Public Health Specialty Registrar)

Our summary

This review examines early years health issues in London, and how early years settings can be used to improve outcomes for diet and nutrition. The report highlights considerable inequalities in terms of health and wellbeing, which is similar to the picture in Southend-on-Sea. The report argues that early years settings can be effective in tackling these problems, and shows the vital role that parents play.

Headlines

The review concludes that a London wide approach should be taken, including:

  • A healthy, age appropriate diet (including breastfeeding and weaning)
  • Physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour
  • Oral health
  • Speech, language and communication
  • Social and emotional wellbeing
  • Support for children with chronic conditions and disabilities
  • Infection control and immunisations
  • Safety-including reducing injuries
  • Staff health
  • Promotion of parenting skills
  • Sustainability

 

Help us help Southend

* To what extent does Southend have a joined up approach to diet and nutrition (e.g. Healthy Early Years Award)? What improvements do you think we should make?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

Eight things to remember about child development

Title: 8 Things to Remember about Child Development

Research source: http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/8-things-remember-child-development/

The 8 things to remember is an extract from the following:

http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/from-best-practices-to-breakthrough-impacts/

Publication date: 2016

Authors: Centre on the Developing Child at Harvard University

Headlines

The science of early childhood development has given us eight things to remember:

  • Even infants and young children are affected adversely when significant stresses threaten their family and caregiving environments.
  • Development is a highly interactive process, and life outcomes are not determined solely by genes.
  • While attachments to their parents are primary, young children can also benefit significantly from relationships with other responsive caregivers both within and outside the family.
  • A great deal of brain architecture is shaped during the first three years after birth, but the window of opportunity for development does not close on a child’s third birthday.
  • Severe neglect appears to be at least as great a threat to the health and development as physical abuse – possibly even greater.
  • Young children who have been exposed to adversity or violence do not invariably develop stress-related disorders or grow up to be violent adults.
  • Simply removing a child from a dangerous environment will not automatically reverse the negative impacts of that experience.
  • Resilience requires relationships, not rugged individualism.

Help us help Southend

* How can we ensure that discoveries and research are embedded into new projects and practice across Southend?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

Working with fathers of at-risk children

Title: Working with fathers of at-risk children: Insights from a qualitative process evaluation of an intensive group-based intervention

Research source: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740916302699

Publication date: 2016

Authors: Scourfield, J. Alley, C. Coffey, A. and Yates, P.

Our Summary:

This is a rare example of an in-depth qualitative review of parenting programmes for fathers. It includes direct observation of how intensive group-based, ‘dads only’ programmes are put into practice and sought the views of fathers and practitioners. It highlights:

  • How practitioners can skilfully build relationships with fathers
  • That little programme adaptation was required, but mixed gender facilitation was key
  • That fathers particularly value play and parenting advice, and the chance to meet other dads in a similar situation
  • That there were challenges: the time it took for fathers to engage, getting them to attend all sessions. It was also difficult to get dads to apply the learning at home

The authors argue that expectations of change may need to be modest when working with the fathers of at-risk children, and that further studies are needed as well as robust outcomes research.

Help us help Southend

* In what ways can we support parents to apply the learning from programmes at home?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

Risk and protective factors in early child development

Title: Risk and protective factors in early child development: Results from the All Our Babies (AOB) pregnancy cohort

Research source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27587353

Publication date: 2016

Authors: McDonald, S. Kehler, H. Bayrampour, H. Fraser-Lee, N. and Tough, S.

Our Summary

This study argues that understanding protective factors informs prevention and early intervention. This was completed through the data analysis of 3,360 mother and infant pairs (who participated in the All our Babies (AOB) pregnancy cohort – http://allourbabiesstudy.com/our-cohort/). The study found that 17% of the children had some level of developmental delay.

Risk factors:

  • Prenatal depression
  • Preterm birth
  • Low community engagement
  • Non-daily parent-child interaction.

Protective factors:

  • Relationship happiness
  • Parenting self-efficacy (confidence in parenting ability)
  • Community engagement
  • Higher social support
  • Daily parent-child interaction.

Help us help Southend

* Are there any innovative ways that you can think of that would support protective factors in the early years (e.g. confidence in parenting ability)?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

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