Parent-Infant Foundation reacts to publication of the Start for Life Vision
25 March 2021
We welcome Government’s commitment to improve the health of and wellbeing of babies in the first 1001 days, through the Start for Life Vision. Today’s review document provides a clear and detailed evaluation of the services, workforce and leadership needed to improve outcomes during this formative life stage. As the review acknowledges, more work is needed to ensure the vision outlined today becomes a reality for families. The Government must set out a timeline for delivering the actions set out in this document. It is vitally important that the Chancellor commits to ensuring there is funding available to deliver this vision. We look forward to working with the Start-for-Life Unit, the newly appointed Cabinet Minister and other Government departments during the implementation phase.
The review describes the value of specialist parent-infant relationship support, which should be part of the offer of mental health services available to families in each local area. It also recognises the action and investment needed to grow the specialist parent-infant workforce. This recognition is welcome. The NHS Long Term Plan committed to the development of specialist mental health provision for ALL children – including the youngest – but without a drive from national government and NHS England this goal will not be realised. We hope that the Start-for-Life Unit can provide this drive and secure the investment required.
As the review acknowledges, the pandemic had a serious impact on some babies and their families. Lockdown has limited opportunities to identify child development concerns and to support parents struggling at a time of increased need. In addition to the long-term reform set out in this review, urgent government action must be taken to include parents and babies in the nation’s recovery from the pandemic. The first 1001 days is a period of uniquely rapid development – babies cannot wait.