Bishop Rachel has added her voice to those calling for a more joined up approach to early years interventions. She recently sat on an advisory board which contributed to the Best Beginnings Report, produced by the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield and published last week.
The issues is very important to Bishop Rachel. In February she led a debate on Early Years Interventions in the House of Lords, calling for a joined-up approach across health and education, to assess and support the development and wellbeing of every child.
She said, “It is clear that a child’s experiences before the age of 5 set the pattern for their later life. One aspect of this is Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) which have significant public health and social consequences. Children who have lived in persistent poverty during their first seven years of life have cognitive development scores on average 20% below those of children who have never experienced poverty.
“There is a very strong case for improving early years interventions with a clear and joined-up strategy. The Government’s desire to ‘Build back, Build better’ must include creating a secure foundation for all our children, to help them grow into flourishing adults.
“Toddler groups, many provided by churches and other community-based groups, do a huge amount of early intervention and signposting work, informally across the country. We want to encourage this expression of civil society, but the Government must partner with the community to make sure that local services are joined up, holistic and sufficiently funded.
“Real investment in this ‘Best Beginnings’ early years investment plan, ranging from Children and Family hubs to midwives and health visitors will tackle problems at the beginning of a child’s life rather than waiting until crises develop in later years. This timely investment will benefit the long-term well-being and flourishing of individuals, families, households, communities, our country and beyond.”