A Better Start is a ‘test and learn’ programme investing a total of £215 million between 2015-2025 across five local area partnerships within Bradford, Blackpool, Lambeth, Nottingham and Southend-on-Sea. These areas were chosen for their innovative and forward thinking approach to improving child outcomes.
The programme will facilitate system change locally. This means a shift in culture and spending across children and families agencies towards prevention so that local health and other public services, VCSE and the wider community work together to co-produce and deliver less bureaucratic, more joined-up services for all families living in the area. This will lead to these services working with the whole family effectively to improve outcomes for children, focusing on pregnancy and the first three years of life.
These new pathways of care aim to make better use of local resources and set out to improve outcomes for children in three key development areas:
- Social and emotional development: preventing harm before it happens as well as promoting good attachment
- Communication and language development: developing skills in parents to talk, sing, read to, and particularly to praise their babies and toddlers and to ensure local childcare services emphasise language development
- Diet and nutrition: encouraging breast-feeding and promoting good nutritional practices, giving practical advice on healthier meals for young children and portion sizes.