Department of Education

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Research and evidence by department academic, Ted Melhuish (Professor of Human Development), has been cited throughout a new report published by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, calling on the Government to draw up a new national strategy for early intervention approaches to address childhood adversity and trauma.

Early intervention refers to acting as soon as possible to tackle problems before they become more difficult to reverse, and in this context relate to childhood adversity and trauma. It is known that those who suffer adverse childhood experiences, including abuse, neglect and growing up in other difficult household situations, are more likely to encounter a wide range of negative outcomes in later life—in particular physical and mental health problems. However, effective early intervention programmes have been shown to positively impact upon the life chances of those who have suffered childhood adversity, helping young people to avoid problems rather than overcome them. These early interventions take a variety of forms, including parenting programmes, behavioural classes for children or programmes supporting early years child development.

Ted Melhuish’s research has contributed to social policy in the UK in the area of families, young children, early education and social disadvantage for over 30 years. His research into understanding the reasons behind children’s different developmental trajectories, as well as exploring early childhood education and care, as well as parental support  in England, were drawn upon for his inquiry evidence.

The Evidence-based early years intervention Report urges the Government to capitalise fully on the opportunity that early intervention provides to transform the lives of those who suffer adversity in childhood, identifying examples of early intervention working well around the country, but also the challenges that local authorities and their partners currently face in delivering effective, evidence-based early intervention and concluding that the overall provision of early intervention in England is fragmented, with varying levels of support, focus on evidence, and success.

“Early experience sets a child on a long-term trajectory that can be favourable or unfavourable. Intervention strategies, properly implemented, can make a worthwhile difference and should be integrated into governmental policy”, comments Ted Melhuish.

The Committee calls for a new national strategy to be drawn up to ensure that the opportunity provided by early intervention—to transform lives and save long-term costs to Government—is seized fully, and by all local authorities in England.

Find out more about Ted Melhuish’s work here.

Download the report in full here.

View more information about the inquiry here.