Welcome to the 22nd 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, also shows how we’re 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 contribute an article, want to sign up to receive these updates, or have a question, please e-mail: abssresearch@pre-school.org.uk

Realising the Potential of Early Intervention (Systems Change)
Evidence-based Parenting (Systems Change)
Mums and Babies in Mind (Social and Emotional)

Realising the Potential of Early Intervention (Systems Change)

Title: Early Intervention Foundation (2018), Realising the Potential of Early Intervention

Research source: https://www.eif.org.uk/report/realising-the-potential-of-early-intervention

Publication date: 30 October 2018

Our Summary: “While early intervention cannot solve all of these problems it can substantially improve children’s lives if it is delivered to a high standard to the children or families who need it the most” (p3)

The report argues that prevention and early intervention can take many forms to support the best outcomes for children. It can include home visiting, supporting early language development, and family therapy. It has been shown that rigorous evidenced, tested and evaluated projects and services mean that children and families are most likely to benefit.

The report categorises intervention projects and services as:

  • Selective – where research has shown that the population is more likely to benefit from protective factors; and
  • Indicative – where a practitioner has indicated that there might be a need for more intensive support.

The key child development domains which it sets out as a target for projects and services are as follows:

  • Physical – obesity and physical health;
  • Cognitive – school achievement and entry into employment;
  • Social and Emotional – mental health and well-being; and
  • Behavioural – crime, violence and anti-social behaviour.

It is seen that the three main threats to child development are –

  • Substance abuse;
  • Risky sexual behaviour; and
  • Child maltreatment.

“Early intervention has the potential to reduce pressure on children’s social care, but this is in the long term rather than the short-term.” (p17)

It is argued that robustly estimating cost comparisons is difficult in terms of reliability. However, it has been estimated that the costs of late intervention are in the region of £17billion annually of which:

  • 39% is to Local Government;
  • 22% to the NHS;
  • 16% on welfare;
  • 10% on police;
  • 9% on justice; and
  • 4% on education.

The report finds that the barriers to early intervention are:

  • Funding;
  • Short-termism;
  • Fragmented responsibility;
  • Not delivering what works;
  • Gaps in the understanding of what works or is likely to work.

To this end it argued for the following national and local actions:

National –

  • Establish a new long-term investment fund to test the impact of a whole-system approach to early intervention in a small number of places;
  • Establish a new what works acceleration fund to support a wider set of places across England to deliver effective early intervention;
  • Create an independent expert panel to advise government on a long-term early intervention research strategy to fill significant gaps in our current knowledge; and
  • Set up a new cross-government task force on early intervention to coordinate the work of relevant Whitehall departments and to oversee the delivery of these commitments.

Local –

  • Agree a clear vision that is founded on the benefits of effective early intervention to local committees and the local economy; and
  • Foster a culture of evidence-based decision making and practice.

How we’re applying this in Southend

  • Prevention and early intervention is in the ethos of everything that we do;
  • We are developing our approach to evidence based decision making (e.g. through our evaluation framework, and formative evaluation processes).

Help us help Southend

  • What other ways can we be contributing to realising this potential?

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

Evidence-based Parenting (Systems Change)

Title: Gray, G.R. Totsika, V. and Lindsay, G. (2018), Sustained Effectiveness of Evidence Based Parenting Programs after the Research Trials Ends, Frontiers in Psychology, doi.10.3389/psyg.2018.020335

Research source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6232939/

Publication date: October 2018

Our Summary: It is argued that despite the evidence of efficacy and effectiveness of Evidence Based Parenting Programmes (EBPPs) that this is not always translated into service provision. This study therefore sets out to compare the effectiveness in a research environment with one that was Local Authority implementation led.

This study looked at the experience of 3,706 parents using child behaviours, parenting style, and parental well-being, both prior to starting a programme and 12 months after. The measures that were used were the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), Parenting Scale, and the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS).

The programmes that were examined were: Incredible Years, Triple P and STOP.

The study found that both the service and research led sustained implementation was associated with significant improvement. On this basis it was argued that there is a strong case for integration of such EBPPs in a public health approach to both child behaviours and parent well-being.

How we’re applying this in Southend

  • We have a mixed portfolio of evidence, science based and innovations in all three of our outcomes: Social and Emotional, Diet and Nutrition and Communication and Language

Help us help Southend

  • How could we use the learning from this research in the design of our projects and services?

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

Mums and Babies in Mind (Social and Emotional)

Title: Hogg, S. (2018), Helping Local Leaders to Keep Mums and Babies in Mind, International Journal of Birth and Parent Education, vol. 6 (1), Autumn 2018 

Research source: https://ijbpe.com/index.php/103-vol-6-issue-1/517-helping-local-leaders-to-keep-mums-and-babies-in-mind

MABIM Evaluation Report: https://maternalmentalhealthalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/MABIM-Evaluation-Report-.pdf

Publication date: Autumn 2018

Our Summary: Mums and Babies in Mind (MABIM) was a 3 year project (funded by the Big Lottery and led by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA). It was based in four areas: Blackpool, Haringey, Gloucestershire and Southend.

Six areas were looked at in the project:

  • Mapping and bespoke support;
  • Leaders programme (2 years multi-disciplinary);
  • Professional development (e.g. GP and Psychology training);
  • Communications activity;
  • Conferences and awards;
  • Campaigning and influencing.

It reached an estimated 1,000 practitioners, received high usage of project resources including a pathway assessment tool.

The shared learning showed that where successful the following was found to be present (p27):

  • Strategic partnerships with shared understanding and vision;
  • Good relationships between clinicians and commissioners;
  • A whole systems approach;
  • Engagement with experts by experience;
  • Meaningful involvement of the voluntary and community sector;
  • A holistic person-centred approach;
  • Services, with sufficient resources; and
  • Passionate and informed professionals.

How we’re applying this in Southend

  • This project was the catalyst for the establishment of a South East Essex Perinatal Mental Health Steering Group in order to take a whole systems approach;
  • We worked in partnership together to complete the MABIM Perinatal Services pathway assessment tool;
  • We worked in partnership to assist commissioners in developing a business case to fund delivery of Perinatal Mental Health training for Practice Nurses and GPs;
  • Health practitioners, commissioners and third sector partners attended and contributed to masterclasses; and
  • MABIM and the steering group supported the development of our specialist health visiting service.

Help us help Southend

  • How can we further build on the work of MABIM in going forward?

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

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