It is widely recognised that a child’s first years are the most crucial in shaping the adult that they become.
During these early years key moments can lay the path for outcomes such as how well they do in school, how they relate to others and the opportunities that they have in adulthood. Our Early Years team works closely with the Programme for Government in Wales to understand the experiences of children during these crucial years.
Combining expertise from backgrounds in early years, child health, mental health and education to name just a few, the ADR Wales Early Years research team brings together this knowledge to deliver well rounded policy-informing research needed to help all children, and particularly those from deprived backgrounds.
Working alongside colleagues from child-focused research programmes including the HAPPEN primary school network, Born in Wales, HDRUK and the Schools for Health in Europe Foundation (SHE), our work looks at adverse childhood experiences with the aim of advising best policy and practice that can best support vulnerable young people. Our Early Years portfolio includes the analysis of the outcomes for children born of low birth weight or preterm, low school readiness, the impact of ACEs including domestic violence, living with someone with mental health or substance abuse problems and outcomes for children taken into care.
Work is also underway to assess whether initiatives and services such as the Welsh Government’s flagship Flying Start programme and other initiatives around childcare funding and services for looked after children are increasing the opportunities for young children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The academic lead for the ADR Wales Early Years programme is Professor Sinead Brophy.
The Programme for Government recognises the importance of the early years and includes high profile commitments, such as the continuation of Flying Start programmes and expansion of early years provision to include all 2 year olds, under the promise to protect, re-build and develop our services for vulnerable people.
We will undertake work linking maternity, child health, public health and administrative data to examine the impact of parental occupation and health in pregnancy, first 1000 days and pre-school experiences on the child’s early years health, attainment and wellbeing. This work will be shaped by the advice and input from parents of young families (expectant parents and those with pre-school children), midwives and health visitors to ensure we are examining the questions which are most important to families and health professionals. The early years programme also works with the social care, mental health (for parents), and wellbeing programmes of ADR Wales (in particular, the built environment and access to play).
We will continue to work with the Welsh Local Government Association and local authorities to help evidence local government needs to inform decision making. This includes supporting local authorities to share and link data on early years programmes, including the Childcare Offer and Flying Start programmes.
Early years support for vulnerable children
This project aims to understand what works to support vulnerable children, such as those experiencing domestic violence, adverse childhood conditions or children who are looked after or under child protection measures, with a view to supporting these children during their early years.
This project will look at interventions that aim to reduce inequalities among children such as Free School Meals, access to child care, the built environment and maternal employment and how they impact the child, with a view to supporting children during their early years.
The role of nurseries and networks to support high risk families
This project will work with families, health visitors and nurseries to develop and test interventions to improve outcomes for high risk children (e.g. those in deprived households, those with low family resources (e.g. maternal depression) with the aim of developing and testing interventions for young families.
Supporting expectant parents
This project will look at the support provided to expectant parents and the affecting pregnancy outcomes.
Improving mental health in single parent families
Through child lead change, this project aims to develop interventions to improve mental health wellbeing among young people living in single parent families.
Data Insight: Geographical profiling verses individual risk profiling in reducing rates of low birth weight and improving school readiness
This Data Insight explores the Flying Start programme as a geographical profiling tool to anonymously identify vulnerable families. It also explores data driven models as an alternative method of identifying individuals at risk of experiencing adverse events.