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

This is your regular update giving you the latest on early years policy, practice and evidence, and how we are using these findings to influence our work in Southend.

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

Contents:

Toolkit for Better Oral Health

Early Brain Development

Early Intervention Conference Notes

Early Years and Equality Review

Improving Lives and Worklessness

Toolkit for Better Oral Health

Title: Delivering better oral-health: an evidence-based toolkit for prevention

Research source: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/605266/Delivering_better_oral_health.pdf

Publication date: March 2017 (Third Edition)

Authors: Public Health England

Our summary:
The first edition of the toolkit was published in 2007, which the authors argue has made a positive effect on oral health in England. It included the publication of minimum concentrations of fluoride, which many manufacturers have since used to reformulate, in order to reduce the instances of dental caries. The toolkit was also published in conjunction with the purpose of prioritising preventative treatment and advice, on a universal basis. Primary care teams it is argued have found that the toolkit has supported the communication of oral health messages in a standard way.

The latest version of the toolkit takes a practical and progressive approach to the evidence which is graded at level 1 (based on opinion only) to 5 (based on strong evidence from at least one systematic review of Random Controlled Trials). In this edition where evidence has found to be not yet available it is labelled as ‘Good Practice’ (GP).

For all children aged 0-3 years the advice that is recommended to be given is as follows:

 

Advice to be Given

 

Evidence Level

 

Breastfeeding provides the best nutrition for babies

 

1

 

From six months of age infants should be introduced to drinking from a free-low cup, and from one year feeding from a bottle should be discouraged

 

3

 

Sugar should not be added to weaning foods or drinks

 

5

 

Parents / Carers should brush or supervise tooth-brushing

 

1

 

As soon as teeth erupt in the mouth brush them twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste

Brush last thing at night and on one other occasion

 

1

3

 

Use fluoridated toothpaste using no less than 1,000 ppm
fluoride

It is good practice to only use a smear of toothpaste

 

1

GP

 

The frequency and amount of sugary food and drinks should be reduced

 

3, 1

 

Sugar-free medicines should be recommended

 

3

In addition for children at risk (0-6 years) the following is also recommended:

  • That flouridited toothpaste of 1,350-1,500 ppm is used (Evidence level 1)
  • That fluoride varnish is applied two or more times a year (Evidence level 1)
  • That recall intervals are reduced (Evidence level 5)
  • Investigate diet and assist adoption of good dietary practice in line with the Eatwell Guide https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-eatwell-guide (Evidence level 1)

How we’re applying the research in Southend

  • In 2017 a fluoride programme has been launched in Southend. It is led by Public Health in conjunction with the University of Essex (‘Fluoride varnish application and social deprivation’ study) and Children’s Centres
  • We are now posting key diet and nutrition health messages (e.g. sugar) on our website on our news pages and on Facebook A Better Start Southend

Help us help Southend

  • How can we ensure that the profile of evidence based messages and practice is raised in Southend?

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

Early Brain Development

Title: Lighting up young brains: How parents, carers and nurseries support children’s brain development in the early years

Research source: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/docs/Lighting_Up_Young_Brains.pdf

Publication date: 2016

Authors: The Save the Children Fund

Our summary

This report by the Save the Children Fund argues that the evidence in terms of early brain development is clear, and that that it is driven by a mix of experience, environment and genes. It argues that in the first two years of life that (p4):

  • The majority of the neurons in an adults brain are the ones that were formed in the womb
  • By age one an infant’s brain has developed 72% of an adult brain size, and by aged two 83%
  • Connections forming in an infant’s brain develop twice as fast as an adult
  • Early language and brain development support one another
  • Parents and carers (and the home environment) are the most crucial relationship in supporting brain development
  • High quality early years provision supports a child’s brain and language development

On the basis of the recommendations they make the argument that the government should take note of the following:

  • All children but particularly those who are growing up in poverty should have access to ‘high quality learning experiences’ (p13) that supports their development at home
  • That support is given for innovative approaches to supporting parental capacity to develop learning opportunities for their infants
  • That all nursery settings should be led by an Early Years teacher by 2020.

Help us help Southend

  • In what ways do you think that we should be communicating agreed messages about early year’s brain development?

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

Early Intervention Conference Notes

Title: Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) Conference 2017

Research sourcehttp://www.eif.org.uk/event/national-conference-2017/?utm_source=Early+Intervention+Foundation+Newsletter&utm_campaign=c237f054fb-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_05_24&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d9eb0322c5-c237f054fb-118501097

Publication date: May 2017

Authors: Various

Our Summary

The annual Early Intervention Foundation conference was held on 11 May 2017.

There are six open access presentations available from the conference as follows:

  • Early intervention, challenges and opportunities
  • Breakout 1: Social mobility
  • Breakout 2: Vulnerable children
  • Breakout 3: Service integration
  • Breakout 4: Parental relationships
  • Panel discussion: Does evidence matter?

The conference argues that the cost of late intervention is undeniable (£16.6bn 2016-2017). 37% is spent on children’s social care, 35% crime and anti-social behaviour, 16% youth economic inactivity, 5% child injuries and mental health problems, 4% school absence and exclusion, and 3% youth substance misuse (Opening Presentation, slide 3).

The opening presentation (slide 22) argues that in order to move from late intervention to early and prevention requires the use of evidence of ‘what works’, as well as a commitment across the life course:

  • In order to develop systems that are geared to early intervention it is essential that support and information is provided to stakeholders, and partners in order to create a demand for the use of evidence
  • That key messages extracted from evidence should be easily accessible and have clarity
  • That dedicated resources are required to ensure the success of implementations as the result of evidence

Help us help Southend

  • What is the best way for us to create support for prevention, early intervention and the use of evidence?

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


Early Years and Equality Review

Title: Early years, life-chances and equality: a literature review

Research source: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/publication-download/research-report-7-early-years-life-chances-and-equality-literature-review

Publication date: 2016

Authors: Johnson, P and Kossykh, Y

Our summary

The review sets out to look at how early years experiences impacts on life chances (e.g. employment, education and mental health) for different parts of the population. It is argued that outcomes are closely linked to cognitive and social competencies developed in the early years.

On the basis of the review it is argued that:

  • Child poverty and social deprivation are the main explanations for poor outcomes, and is therefore the most effective way of tackling inequality
  • Once social economic status is taken into account children from different ethnic groups make greater progress than white British children. It is felt that this is due to parents from ethnic groups having higher aspirations for their children (parental behaviour)
  • Ethnic groups experience greater challenges in terms of employment. It is found from this review that this is not due to individual difference or education in the early years, and therefore it is proposed to be due to what they refer to as ‘ethnic penalties’
  • Children with disabilities are more likely to be ‘multi disadvantaged’
  • There is a gender gap in education with girls having a tendency to perform better at all stages of the curriculum. This finding is not just specific to the UK. The main ways that this has been explained in evidence has been through biological (different brain structures) and sociological (what is considered important and meaningful to the genders) explanations

From the review the authors conclude that social economic status as well as parental behaviour (contribute to what the authors refer to as the phenomenon of ‘intergenerational persistence’) effect early years development the most. For some groups e.g. based on gender and ethnic group this has not as yet been fully explained, nor is there sufficient evidence in the form of data on early year’s long term outcomes.

Help us help Southend

  • In what innovative ways can we tackle ‘intergenerational persistence’ e.g. in increasing parental aspiration?

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

Improving Lives and Worklessness

Title: Improving Lives: Helping workless families

Research source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/improving-lives-helping-workless-families

Publication date: April 2017

Authors: Department for Work and Pensions

Our summary

This government policy document sets out to tackle worklessness in families where this is considered to be the norm. They estimate the extent of the issue is 1.8 families in the UK who will be affected by a reduction in the opportunity for future success. The analysis proposes that becoming employed is frustrated for such families by a wide range of complex issues.

The review proposes the following theories of parental worklessness and poor children’s outcomes:

  • Parental conflict
  • Poor paternal mental health
  • Problem debt
  • Parental drug and alcohol dependency
  • Homelessness

The next steps for the review are proposed as follows (page 4):

  • The next phase of the Troubled families programme – with an increased focus on helping families into work, as well as tackling disadvantages that are associated with worklessness
  • Reduce parental conflict – providing increased evidence based early intervention provision supported by local specialist organisations
  • Set new expectations for Job Centre Plus – strengthening partnerships with local authorities and other providers in order to more effectively identify and assess needs
  • Tackle dependency by implementing recommendations made by Dame Carol Black’s review https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/drug-and-alcohol-addiction-and-obesity-effects-on-employment-outcomes (Dec 2016) – by trialling the individual and placement support approach

As part of the way that they propose to track the progress of the review it is also proposed that:

  • Nine national indicators will be published – two will be statutory (proportion of children in workless households, and proportion of children in long-term workless households) and the remaining non-statutory. This will also be used for tracking in terms of academic evaluation. The early years indicators will be the proportion of children achieving a Good Level of Development at the end of the school year when children turn five (all pupils and Free School Meals pupils)
  • A new evidence resource will be published on tackling multiple deprivation and its impact on children

Help us help Southend

  • In addition to our Work Skills activities, what innovative services could we consider to support families out of worklessness?

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

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