Welcome to the seventeenth edition of our A Better Start Southend Research Bulletin, bringing you the latest on ‘what works’ in early years’ around our outcomes: Social and Emotional Development, Diet and Nutrition, Communications and Language, Community Resilience and Systems Change.

Your regular update, edited by Rachel Wood, our Service Design and Researcher, also shows how we are using these findings to influence our work in Southend. In addition, we invite you to help shape our ‘test and learn’ projects and innovations in prevention and early intervention.

If you would like to sign up to receive these updates, or have a question, please email: abetterstart@pre-school.org.uk

Infant Language Development (Communications and Language)
Nurturing Care Framework (Social and Emotional)
Nutrition and Lifestyle (Diet and Nutrition)
Community Resilience Evaluation (Community Resilience)
IT Based Service Design (Systems Change)

Infant Language Development (Communications and Language)

Title: Educating Parents About Infant Language Development: A Randomised Controlled Trial, Clinical Paediatrics, pp1-9, Suskind, DL. Leung, CYY. Webber, RJ. Hundertmark, AC. Leffel, KR. Fuenmayor Rivas, LE. and Grobman, WA. (2017)

Research source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29073768

Publication date: October 2017

Our Summary: This American study argues that language development, in addition to sensitive parenting during the first year of life is critical for:

  • Infant brain development;
  • Acquisition of communications skills, and
  • Secure bonding with caregivers

A large number of those involved with the study reported having no communication from any health professionals about the importance of exposure to language. They use this to support the argument that language development is also crucial for fostering cognitive development.

The study took a baseline assessment of ‘Baby SPEAK (Survey of Parental Expectations and Knowledge)’, in comparison with 1-day post-intervention and 4-6 weeks post-intervention. Those taking part in the study were given access to the TMW [Thirty Million Words] Initiative New-born Curriculum (TMW-New-born) and compared against those who watched a control video.

Results showed that those who received the TMW-New-born intervention significantly gained knowledge about early language environments and caregiver responsiveness and this was sustained over time. This did however vary by language. It is also argued that it was both cost-effective and simple to implement.

How were applying this in Southend

  • We are currently delivering a wide range of test and learn projects that focus on communications and language development;
  • We are offering a universal screening alongside these projects and activities.

Help us help Southend

  • What other ways could we support early language development and sensitive parenting?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing: abetterstart@pre-school.org.uk

Nurturing Care Framework (Social and Emotional)

Title: Nurturing Care for Early Child Development, WHO (2018)

Research source: http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/documents/nurturing-care-early-childhood-development/en/

Publication date: May 2018

Our Summary: “If we change the beginning of the story, we change the whole story.” (p2)

This framework draws on the latest evidence in terms of early child development in order to argue for the policies and services that will help parents and caregivers provide nurturing care to babies and infants.

From the evidence, it is argued in terms of nurturing care that it is known:

  • Why it is important;
  • What can threaten early development;
  • What children need to fulfil their potential; and
  • What strengthens families and caregiver capacity to support young children’s development.

It builds on the foundation of primary care to propose a vision for 2030.

It focuses on the period from 0-3 years as “it is scientifically proven that it is a sensitive period for brain development” (p3)

A map of the life course in nurturing care can be found on page 8.

It defines nurturing care as:

“Conditions created by public policies, programmes and services. These conditions enable communities and caregivers to ensure children’s good health and nutrition, and protect them from threats. Nurturing care also means giving young children opportunities for early learning, through interactions that are responsive and emotionally supportive” (p2).

The five strategic calls for action are:

  • Lead and invest;
  • Focus on families and communities;
  • Strengthen services;
  • Monitor progress;
  • Use data and innovate.

It outlines that a nurturing environment consists of:

  • Enabling policies;
  • Supportive services;
  • Empowered communities;
  • Caregivers’ capabilities.

How were applying this in Southend

  • The A Better Start sites were given the opportunity to peer review an early draft of the framework. Southend also contributed to this;
  • We will ensure that the principles behind the framework are embedded into our social and emotional development strategy.

Help us help Southend

  • How can we ensure that the framework is embedded within all the work that we do?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@pre-school.org.uk

Nutrition and Lifestyle (Diet and Nutrition)

Title: From the Beginning: nutrition and lifestyle in the preconception period and its importance for future health, The Lancet, vol. 391, Stephenson, J. Heslehurst, N. Hall, J. Schoenaker, DAJM. Hutchinson, J. Cade, JE. Poston, L. Barrett, G. Crozier, SR. Barker, M. Kumaran, K. Yojnik, CS. And Mishra, GD (2018)

Research source: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30311-8/fulltext

Publication date: April 2018

Our Summary: The authors argue that pre-conception has strong links to pregnancy outcomes. This has been identified through life-course research and has found to be crucial to health intergenerationally.

They argue that the pre-conception period should be re-defined:

  • The biological perspective (days to weeks prior to embryo development);
  • The individual perspective (conscious intention to conceive);
  • The public health perspective – months or years prior to address protective factors e.g. diet and obesity.

They also found that:

  • Research has found that in some areas more than others that women are not sufficiently prepared for pregnancy;
  • Micro-nutrients can support pregnancy but cannot improve all child outcomes;
  • Research has found that pregnancy planning is increasingly common;

It is argued that on this basis that this window of opportunity should be used for population level initiatives (e.g. obesity and smoking).

How were applying this in Southend

  • We are delivering a range of test and learn diet and nutrition projects (e.g. Group-based Breastfeeding Support, HENRY).

Help us help Southend

  • How can we look at diet and nutrition on an intergenerational basis?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@pre-school.org.uk

Community Resilience Evaluation (Community Resilience)

Title: Guidelines for Community Resilience Evaluation, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.19416.90880, Tiaballesi, A. Bologna, S. Bertocchi, G. and Carrozzi, L. (2017)

Publication date: March 2017

Our Summary: These guidelines set out to support community leaders in understanding how resilient their community might be.

The functions that it looks at are:

Community Functions 

·         Economy;

·         Community service;

·         Education;

·         Health;

·         Family;

·         Government;

·         Cultural and religious;

·         Media;

·         Community service;

·         Energy;

·         Transportation;

·         Communication;

·         Water and waste;

·         Buildings.

The guide uses the following as a definition for community resilience:

“Community resilience is the capability to anticipate risk, limit impact, and bounce back rapidly through survival, adaptability, evolution, and growth in the face of turbulent change.”

They also propose that a resilient community is one in which:

  • Is knowledgeable and healthy;
  • Is organised;
  • Is connected;
  • Has infrastructure and services;
  • Has economic opportunities;
  • Can manage its natural assets.

In all elements of resilience, it emphasises that the community will have a crucial role in:

  • Determining what and when resilience is monitored and evaluated;
  • Determining measures and methods of analysis;
  • Evaluating performance;
  • Conducting audits and providing scrutiny.

How were applying this in Southend

  • Our shared vision for community resilience is:

“Our communities will be self-supporting, influence and drive change and have raised aspirations for their children’s lives.”

  • We are an asset-based programme and co-production with our community is central to everything that we do.

Help us help Southend

  • What other ways can we support our communities to be resilient?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@pre-school.org.uk

IT Based Service Design (Systems Change)

Title: A Service Design Framework for the initial phase of service development, Science Direct – conference paper, Imran, S. van Husen, C. and Haeberle, D. (2018)

Research source: Research Gate

Publication date: May 2018

Our Summary: The service design of innovations has risen in significance in service and research organisations. The authors argue that in the initial phases of service design that collaboration with all stakeholders including users of services is crucial. They also argue that gaps between the designed specification and future development are common.

The study argues that the following is essential to be managed through the process:

  • Governance;
  • Service categories and sub categories;
  • Service specification;
  • Resources and process maps; and
  • Stakeholder requirements.

It also advocated the further development of digital methodologies to support the process.

How were applying this in Southend

  • We are committed to service design, which is a means by which we support our vision for systems change;
  • Our service design resources are available on our service design knowledge lab. We will be developing this further over the next few months.

Help us help Southend

  • What service design resources would you like to be able to open access on our website?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@pre-school.org.uk

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