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.
2015 Goodman Lecture Summary
Professor Vivette Glover Professor of Perinatal Psychobiology at Imperial College London in the 2015 Goodman Lecture said "It is well-known that the early care which a child experiences affects their development, but we now know that the environment in the womb can also have long lasting effects."
Anxiety and distress in pregnancy are common but are not given the attention they deserve. The London School of Economics Report put the cost of perinatal mental illness at £8 billion a year, 72% of which arises from problems in childhood and beyond.
The key findings of the report, led by Annette Bauer and Professor Martin Knapp from LSE's Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) are:
- Perinatal depression, anxiety and psychosis together carry a total long-term cost to society of about £8.1 billion for each one-year cohort of births in the UK.
- Nearly three-quarters (72%) of this cost relates to adverse impacts on the child rather than the mother.
- Over a fifth of total costs (£1.7 billion) are borne by the public sector, with the bulk of these falling on the NHS and social services (£1.2 billion).
- Other costs include loss of earnings/impact on someone's ability to work and quality of life effects.
'Building Great Britons' First 1001 Critical Days APPG Report, February 2015
'The groundwork for good citizenship occurs in the first 1001 days. A society which delivers this for its children creates a strong foundation for almost every aspect of its future.'
Tim Loughton MP.
What About The Children? has worked to press home this key message for a number of years promoting the findings of scientific research to policy makers, professionals and parents. The full report and What About The Children?'s written and oral evidence made to the inquiry can be accessed here.
Read our latest book review on Veronica Read's book published this year
Developing Attachment in Early Years Settings by Veronica Read
2nd Edition published by Routledge
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.