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Early Intervention: The Next Steps

19th January 2011

Early intervention will improve the lives of vulnerable children and help break the cycle of "dysfunction and under-achievement", according to a new report published today by Graham Allen MP.

The government-commissioned report recommends regular assessments of all pre-school children, focusing on their social and emotional development.

The Labour MP was asked to assess how children from disadvantaged backgrounds could be given the best start in life. His report says success or failure in early childhood has "profound economic consequences" and calls for more private money to be channelled into early intervention schemes to help set children on the right path in life.

All too often society is failing to equip young children with the social and emotional skills they need in life, he says. "If we continue to fail, we will only perpetuate the cycle of wasted potential, low achievement, drink and drug misuse, unintended teenage pregnancy, low work aspirations, anti-social behaviour and lifetimes on benefits, which now typifies millions of lives and is repeated through succeeding generations," the report warns. Only early intervention can break the "inter-generational cycle of dysfunction and under-achievement", according to the report.

The rigorous analysis provided by Graham Allen is to be welcomed.  However, recognising the inter-generational cycle of dysfunction and promoting interventions that operate at the earliest time in a young person's life is just the start. Early intervention must apply to older groups, not just early years. To break the cycle of underachievement we need an intervention continuum that responds to the needs of young people throughout their passage into adulthood. In order to provide young people with the necessities to create a successful life - education, employment, housing and a safe community - we need to recognise that early intervention must extend into teenage years and adulthood.

Read more:

  • See the full report here
  • See the Guardian interview with Graham Allen here
  • See the BBC coverage here
  • See commentary from the charity group Catch 22 here
viewed here