Early Intervention

New: The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) has announced the key appointments of Carey Oppenheim as the new Chief Executive and Leon Feinstein as Head of Evidence. 

Action for Children has published a campaign document calling for a ten-year spending plan setting out funding for children’s services. See also their January 2013 report, Early Intervention: decision-making in local authority Children's Services.

LGCplus reports that Norfolk Council has failed to find enough "troubled families" to meet the government's requirements and will have its funding for the programme cut by 50% accordingly.


Early Intervention Foundation

The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) was officially launched at 10 Downing Street on 15 April 2013, with cross-party support. Full details may be found on the EIF website and an article about the launch on the daynurseries.co.uk website.

Follow EIF on twitter: @EarlyIntervener

The Foundation has been set up by a consortium of organisations which includes 4Children, the Local Government Association and Achievement for All 3As.  The organisations will support the new Foundation in its infancy before handing over responsibility to the Foundation’s trustees and management once it is established as a charity in its own right in the summer. 

The EIF has been established to champion and support the move to greater use of early intervention approaches. The EIF will:

  • Assess what programmes work – to determine both the best Early Interventions available and their relative value for money. 
  • Translate this into practical, evidence-based Advice to local commissioners, service providers and potential investors to enable them to make the best choices for supporting children and families.
  • Advocate for Early Intervention as a serious alternative to expensive and ineffective late intervention;

Early Intervention identifies the early symptoms of social problems and then tackles the root causes - such as drink and drug abuse, teen pregnancy, low educational attainment, poor parenting and unemployment – by giving every baby, child and young person the social and emotional skills necessary to enable them to fulfill their potential. Tackling the cause of the problem breaks the intergenerational cycles of dysfunction and reduces later costs to the taxpayer as well as non financial costs to society as a whole.

The Early Intervention Foundation is initially focusing on work within England but will engage with partners across the UK who share the objective of promoting Early Intervention.

Organisations backing The Early Intervention Foundation Consortium include:

For more information please contact Sheetal Morzaria on 020 7522 6986 / 07557041018 or Sheetal.morzaria@4children.org.uk

Background

On 5 February 2013, the Department for Education and The Early Intervention Foundation Consortium signed a contract for the creation of an independent Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) – one of the key recommendations of Graham Allen's Early Intervention report (see below).

Graham Allen, MP for Nottingham North, proposed the establishment of an EIF in Early Intervention: the next steps, a report to parliament published in January 2011. He followed this up with Early Intervention: Smart Investment, Massive Savings, published in July 2012, in which he called for a migration of funding of 1% each year from late intervention budgets to early intervention.

A further call to the government to focus on early intervention came from the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) in its paper A long division: Closing the attainment gap in England’s secondary schools, published in September 2012. The report argued that school improvement policies, such as  such as academies and free schools, will not be enough to close the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils in England’s schools. "What the schools have to do to reduce achievement gaps is made much easier if children start school on a much more level playing field," ippr's director Nick Pearce  said.

Joe Irvin, NAVCA's Chief Executive said,

"Early intervention can dramatically improve lives, tackle child poverty and improve people's health. Much of the work of local charities and voluntary groups concerns itself with early intervention. We believe local and small scale charities can play a big part in successful early interventions.

"We really welcome the chance to be part of this consortium and we would like to see public bodies make a start by allocating at least one per cent of budgets to early intervention."

NAVCA believes that early intervention must be a fundamental part of the government's approach to its Troubled Families Programme, in connection with which the Department for Communities and Local Government has issued Working with Troubled Families: a guide to evidence and good practice. Also available online are presentations from the Troubled Families national conference held on 23 January 2013.

A review by the National Audit Office of 'early action' has concluded that this approach has the potential to result in better outcomes and greater value for money.

Early Intervention Seminar

On 13 July 2012, NAVCA hosted a seminar to explore both the positive role that small voluntary and community sector (VCS) groups can and do play in early intervention and the challenges they face to taking part. Chief among these challenges is the burden and cost of evidencing the impact of small community groups' work.

Also at the seminar, Adam Lang of the Big Lottery Fund drew attention to their report Improving Futures: New projects to transform the lives of children, published in July 2012.

Funding concerns

NAVCA firmly believes that investment in early intervention delivers far better value than paying for the later consequences of children being brought up in disadvantaged or chaotic homes.

Consequently, NAVCA shares Graham Allen's concern at the govrenment's top-slicing and de-ringfencing of £1.5 billion of Early Intervention Grant funding for central distribution towards adoption, in addition to the 23% reduction in funding that has already taken place.

NAVCA co-signed a letter from Graham Allen to the Prime Minister, written on 4 October 2012, expressing grave concern at the proposals, endorsing his statement that "It is utterly inevitable that without dedicated government funding early intervention funding will fall as councils struggle to fund the basics."

Responding to the annoucement, Mr Allen said, "This is Whitehall taking money from local councils and saying 'we know best, follow our priorities not your own'. So much for localism. It is also unclear whether this money will be spent on evidenced based policies that work or on Ministerial 'pet projects' which are the bane of reflex policy making directed from Whitehall.

"Councils will have to reduce spending on early intervention programmes that they judge are right in their circumstances - these include Sure Start, help for babies, short breaks for disabled children and support for families with multiple needs.

"This funds a headline but at the cost of undermining existing early intervention programmes which help the social and emotional development of all babies, children and young people. We all support adoption but to do so by robbing existing children's programmes reeks of the short termist headline grabbing that is exactly the wrong way to take proven programmes to scale."

Mr Allen's analysis of the funding figures provided by government is set out below:

"Ministers have stated that the overall funding for early intervention will increase to £2.542bn by 2014/15. This includes the funding transferring into the business rates retention scheme, the enhanced funding for two year olds in the DSG (Dedicated Schools Grant) and the £150m held back by the DfE.

"But this 'increase' - mainly as a result of increased investment in provision for two year olds - is masking a major cut in the overall funding available for early intervention.

"Ministers have also confirmed that the government is putting additional resources of £203m in 2013/14 and £380m in 2014/15 to support the expansion of provision for two year olds.  However, these figures do not tally with previous DfE figures which stated that spending for two-year olds would increase from £291m in 2012/13 to £534m in 2013/14 and to £760m in 2014/15. 

"The real cut becomes apparent when the current Early Intervention Grant budget and the new investments are considered together:   

  • The base funding available to local authorities through the Early Intervention Grant in 2012/13 is £2.365bn.   
  • Ministers have confirmed the additional new investment for two year olds of £203m and £380m in 2013/14 and 2014/15. 
  • It would, therefore, be expected that the total investment on early intervention would rise to £2.948bn by 2014/15.
  • Ministers have confimed that funding will rise - but only to £2.542bn.
  • Ministers seem to be confirming, therefore,  that £406m is being cut from the overall funding expected for Early Intervention.

On 15 February 2011, NAVCA Chief Executive Joe Irvin and Policy Officer Robert Beard took part in The Guardian Public Leaders Network Policy Hub live chat The raid on early intervention budgets, arguing the case for investment in early intervention and the use of local communities' and community groups' knowledge, experience and expertise.

The UK government is funding a £5m study into early years education in England ahead of a funding boost for pre-school children living in low income households.

Early Intervention and Police and Crime Commissioners

On 5 December 2012, Graham Allen MP opened a parliamentary debate, asserting that

"We need our police commissioners to hammer home the two key principles of modern policing: partnership and prevention. Those two principles come together in early intervention...

"The new police commissioners could be the midwives of a cultural change in policing from late intervention to early and pre-emptive intervention. The police will always have the task of reacting to crime, but sustained crime prevention and reduction requires a strategy that unites the police with all the other agencies, whether public, private, third sector or business, that can help tackle the behaviours and lifestyles that breed antisocial behaviour and crime."

NAVCA works with Clinks and other partner organisations to deliver the Safer Future Communities (SFC) initiative, which has established voluntary and community sector networks in every English police force area, each one led by a local NAVCA member.

SFC network leads are ideally placed to ensure that PCCs are aware of local voluntary and community groups working to address the causes of local crime and antisocial behaviour, as well as those working with their consequences, and to make the case that investment in early intervention can save much greater expenditure in the future.



 

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