Research confirms that a child's experience in the first three years of life shape its future - out of all proportion to the rest of childhood. A secure primary attachment relationship is the main protective factor due to the impact it has on the developing brain. When a child's first 3 years are right, it brings huge benefits not just for the child but for the whole of society.
Scientific research is convincing in its message that the first three years of life shape a child's physical, emotional and mental development – for good or bad – out of proportion to the rest of childhood. What About The Children? is a voice for children too young to speak out about their emotional needs themselves.
What About The Children? campaigns for policies that promote prevention rather than intervention to protect the emotional well being of all children. It speaks for the emotional needs of under threes at All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG's) concerned with children, at the Early Childhood Forum, and Save Childhood Movement.
Young children, who are nurtured, talked to and played with attentively by a constant, sensitive and responsive carer – most often, but not always, the mother – with other caring adults as secondary attachment figures, will almost invariably thrive.
We campaign to ensure children receive consistent, responsive loving care in their earliest years critical for optimum brain development and long term physical and mental health.
What About the Children? brings together academics and practitioners at its annual conference & bi ennnial Goodman lectures on a broad range of aspects of early child development. Past conference papers can be downloaded here.
What About the Children? searches out current scientific research in neuroscience, psychology, biology and the medical sciences, selecting research that provide new insights into early life experiences. We summarise these academic papers for the wider professional community and others interested in children's well being.
Our Research Summaries are grouped by the year the research was published.
Delegates from all over the UK attended What About The Children? Conference 'Do Infants have rights? Who has the responsibility? 'on 9th March. Rupa Huq MP Shadow Minister Home Office (crime and prevention) opened the conference at which Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green gave the 2017 Goodman Lecture. Neil Leitch CEO Pre-school Learning Alliance and Nicola Leigh Principal Early Years Officer Bedford Council also addressed the conference.
'Thanks for an excellent conference, it was a great day'
'I found yesterday's conference very interesting, the work What About The Children? does is extremely worthwhile and important.'
'I wanted to thank you for an excellent conference yesterday. An enjoyable - and interesting event - and an opportunity to catch up with fellow professionals.'
'We found the conference really interesting. It raised such important questions, in particular how is it possible with so much evidence and with so many good people working in this area that getting relatively small investment in early years is SUCH an uphill battle?'
Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green in conversation with delegates at our 2017 national conference 'Do infants have rights? Who has the responsibility?
More children are being taken into care as a result of fewer resources being available for early intervention, these are the findings published this month in the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children Report 'No good options' www.ncb.org./nogoodoptions
The report explains that as councils are cutting funding to universal services that support all families, early support is less available and as a result more expensive interventions are required as needs become critical. What About The Children? has always emphasised the importance of universal services being available to all families with young children, preventing potential harm rather than relying on expensive targeted interventions when difficulties reach a crisis.
The report explains that 'Local authorities are too often failing to reach children and families who need help, whether through early intervention services, statutory support for 'children in need', or statutory support for children in care. Between 2010-11 and 2015-16 spending by local authorities on early intervention services for children, young people and families fell by 31 per cent in real terms.'
Ofsted figures show that across local authorities, for every £1 spent on preventative help, £4 is spent on reactive child protection work. This is further evidence that intervention is more costly. What About The Children?'s message is that prevention is a more cost effective strategy to preventing harm. The Inquiry heard repeatedly that increasing resource is being directed towards children who have already suffered abuse or neglect, or those at high risk of harm. Correspondingly, fewer resources are allocated for early intervention and prevention, including support for families'
Royal support for infant mental health
The Duchess of Cambridge attended the launch of 'Out of the blue' a suite of films produced by Best Beginnings to raise better awareness about perinatal mental health. The films have been shaped by focus groups, Stakeholder days, independent editorial board and Parent Panel. What About The Children? has been a contributor to this development process and was invited to attend the launch event held at the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. To find out more about these resources go to www.bestbeginnings.org.uk
What About The Children? relies entirely on its supporters for funding and on the hard work of its committed volunteers.
Help us get the important message about emotional needs and early brain development out to even more people.
What About The Children?, a small national charity, brings together people from a range of backgrounds and expertise who have come together to campaign on behalf of the emotional needs of children too young to speak for themselves. The charity is independent with no political or religious affiliations.