Call for greater policy focus on early attachment

In a new report, The Sutton Trust have highlighted the importance of early attachment and called on policy makers and children’s centres to increase their attention on this key area.

The “Baby Bonds” report is a review of over 100 international studies into attachment and the effect that emotional bonding between parents and their babies can have on a child’s life chances. It warns that up to 40% of babies may be growing up without a secure attachment.

Parents who are more secure are more likely to develop secure bonds and their children in turn are likely to grow up feeling a greater degree of security. While the emotional benefits of secure bonding have been widely reported, this new report suggests that opportunities for educational attainment may also be impacted by security in the early years.

The Sutton Trust have urged policy makers to take this into account, warning that children who don’t develop secure attachment are likelier to start school with poorer language skills and poor behaviour. It also suggests that these traits may continue into later life affecting future employment and training opportunities.

The report also urges children’s centres to take an active role in delivering parenting courses to parents of children aged 6 months or younger.

Read the full report (Sutton Trust).

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Troubled Families programme to be extended sooner than planned

The Chancellor has announced in his budget that the Troubled Families programme will begin its extension in 2014/15.

The initiative works to support the 120,000 most disadvantaged families with deeply ingrained complex problems such as antisocial behaviour, parental unemployment and school absences. It began with a £450m investment, which was due to be extended in 2015/6 with an additional £200m fund.

It has now been announced that the expansion will begin to work with a the first 40,000 additional families in the current financial year. Ultimately, the full £200m funding increase is intended to help the programme reach an additional 400,000 families.

Central government covers 40% of the cost of supporting families while councils cover the over 60% and work towards specific improvement criteria.

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Pupil premium will extend into early years

David Cameron and Nick Clegg have announced that the pupil premium will be extended to support early years provision and childcare.

In a pre-budget announcement, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister revealed plans to channel a £50m portion of the pupil premium funds towards disadvantaged families of three and four year olds to improve access to early years education, starting in 2015.

With an aim to support 300,000 families in coming off benefits and into employment, the coalition has also pledged to provide 85% of the childcare costs for working parents, through the universal credit scheme.

In addition, a new tax-free childcare scheme will see the government providing up to £2,000 annually for children up to the age of 12, with the overall cap being increased from £6,000 to £10,000.

Stating his support for Britain’s most disadvantaged children, Clegg said: “All children deserve a better start in life. I’m committed to making sure that we create a fairer society too.

“Today’s package of support will provide a childcare boost for millions of hard-working families, and a £50m cash injection for early education providers to support those children who need extra help in their early years”.

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