It is great to see that supporting children with SEND is a key priority across government and the healthcare system in 2024. The year will get off to a flying start in parliament with the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Special Needs and Disabilities (SEND) meeting on Tuesday 9 January.

We are delighted that Alison Morton, iHV’s CEO, has been asked to provide a keynote presentation on the vital role that health visitors play, supporting both parents and babies and young children during the earliest years of life.

The session is being hosted by cross-party MPs, Olivia Blake MP (chair) and vice chairs Sally-Ann Hart MP, Marsha De Cordova MP, James Sunderland MP, Andy McDonald MP, with secretariat provided by the National Association of Head Teachers. The APPG session will concentrate on the critical importance of early intervention in the context of SEND. This includes:

  • The significance of early identification of SEND.
  • Ensuring timely and appropriate support for those identified.
  • The barriers in place and proposed solutions.

Other speakers on the panel are: Claire Bithall – Parent of a 9-year-old autistic son; Allison Walker – SENCO at Lloyd Park Children’s Charity; Alex Dale and Phil Haslett – f40 Group; Beatrice Merrick – Chief Executive, Early Education; Cath Lowther – General Secretary, Association of Educational Psychologists; and Natalie Browne – 0-5 Team Manager Havering Council.

In 2024, the Institute of Health Visiting will be leading and engaging in a number of other programmes of work to improve the support for babies and young children with SEND and their families. This is an area that will demand increased attention from health visiting teams and we encourage all health visitors to keep abreast of the latest evidence and policies in this space.

iHV SEND conference

To support health visiting teams, we are hosting our very first iHV SEND conference on 14 March 2024 just outside London in Hertfordshire. The one-day conference will be jam-packed with updates from across a breadth of SEND priority areas and is available as an in-person or online delegate options.

Providing better joined-up support to improve the outcomes for children with SEND is a national priority and requires a multi-agency approach. Our SEND conference aims to equip health visitors and early years practitioners (and anyone looking to improve outcomes for babies and young children with SEND and their families) with new knowledge and skills to support better early identification of need and joined up support.

We have a fantastic line-up of high-profile national speakers including: Dame Rachel de Souza – The Children’s Commissioner for England; and Professor Simon Kenny OBE– national clinical director for children and young people and national cerebral palsy pathway group chair. With a breadth of experience, our speakers will present on the current national SEND priorities and encompass evidence-based practice and the latest research on a wide range of SEND topics from experts in their field, including experts with lived experience.

Our conference will also provide an excellent opportunity to network with multi-agency professionals and leading SEND experts from across the UK, as well as charities and exhibitors to support your work in this area.

Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to enhance your health visiting practice and make a difference to babies and children with SEND.

All our conference tickets are subsidised to keep ticket prices as low we can and ensure that as many people as possible can attend. Our early bird ticket sales are open – book at further discounted rates by 31 January 2024.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Conception to Age Two meeting was held earlier this week (28 February) as a hybrid meeting – so both face-to-face and also online. This is a recording of the hybrid meeting – the sound recording is not always clear as it relied on the audio-visual equipment in parliament.

The APPG was chaired by Tim Loughton MP and speakers include: Sarah McMullen, Associate Director for Research and Policy, Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood; Dame Andrea Leadsom MP; Abi Miranda, Head of Early Years and Prevention, Anna Freud Centre; Wook Hamilton, Head of Development, Parent-Infant Foundation; Alison Morton, CEO, Institute of Health Visiting; and Claire O’Meara, Head of UK Policy, UNICEF UK.

Alison Morton, CEO iHV, shared the latest updates on the State of Health Visiting and made the case for urgent investment to meet the scale of rising need and rebuild the service in England after years of cuts – you can listen to Alison at 0:54:49 until 1:07:47

Listen to Alison’s presentation – the first video below starts at her presentation  – click on the image below

Listen/watch all presentations at the APPG – click on the image below:

If you missed yesterday’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Conception to Age Two meeting held online, you can watch it on the link below.

Yesterday’s APPG meeting was chaired by Tim Loughton MP, and the topic was ‘Midwives, Health Visitors and Family Hubs’. Alison Morton, Executive Director iHV, gave evidence on the challenges and opportunities facing health visiting – you can listen to Alison at 1:10:52 until 1:23:00.

If you missed yesterday’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Conception to Age Two meeting held online, you can watch it here (click on the image below to go to YouTube):


Held as part of Infant Mental Health Awareness Week and chaired by Tim Loughton MP, this APPG meeting focused on local variation in the provision of services for babies and their families across England, and how this might be addressed through current reforms – it also includes a presentation from iHV’s Executive Director, Alison Morton, on unwarranted variation in health visiting in England.

Preliminary insights of the Early Years Healthy Development Review were outlined by Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP at the APPG on Conception to age two meeting, held on Tuesday 19 January 2021

At the online APPG, the First 1001 Days Movement ‘s Working for Babies: Lockdown lessons from local systems report was formally launched – read our news story on this.

Speaking at the online event, Andrea Leadsom said that the report findings ‘chime totally’ with what the Early Years Healthy Development Review has found.

The F1001D report presented hard-hitting findings about the direct and indirect harm to babies, young children and their families caused by the pandemic during the Spring 2020 lockdown. These “hidden harms” were broad and significant, and experienced unevenly depending on family circumstances and background. The report also highlighted how there are often ‘baby blind-spots’ where babies’ needs are overlooked in policy, planning and funding.

Andrea Leadsom’s Early Years Healthy Development Review, due to be published at the end of February, will look at issues around joining up services; improving the use of digital services to reach parents; data sharing and local leadership.

She told the APPG attendees that evidence is emerging that services for babies have been ‘particularly better’ since the latter part of last year, when second and third lockdowns took place, largely because staff were not moved away as much as they had been in the first lockdown.

The Early Years Healthy Development Review will give six recommendations which, by the time it is launched in February, Andrea Leadsom hopes will gain the approval of all the political parties so that this early years review will be ‘the one that sticks and endures’ for many years to come.

She talked about the possibilities of harnessing the benefits of digital technology to provide consistent and joined-up support to new parents. The use of data-sharing will enable professionals to provide ‘much more focused support on what families need’ and less time will be spent for parents retelling their story to different professionals.

Andrea Leadsom thanked early years professionals for their amazing work during the lockdowns ‘who have done so much to support new families in such difficult period’ and to reassure them that ‘these lessons would be learnt’ and reflected in the Early Years Healthy Development Review.


The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing has today (29 June 2018) launched an inquiry to establish what actions must be taken both to tackle the negative impacts of social media use, and to maximise the positives for young people.

The inquiry aims to build on the work of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH)’s 2017 report, #StatusOfMind, which found that although social media use has many potential positives for mental wellbeing, such as maintaining friendships and providing a source of emotional support, for young people the impact is primarily negative, fuelling feelings of anxiety, depression, and ‘fear of missing out’.

Polling conducted by RSPH in April 2018 on behalf of the new APPG found that more than half of the UK public (52%) say not enough is being done by social media companies to address the impact of social media on mental health and wellbeing, with two in five (41%) also saying the Government is not doing enough. Four in five (80%) say tighter regulation of social media companies is needed, with almost half (45%) saying this should be done through a self-regulated Code of Conduct, and more than one third (36%) saying it should be legally enforced by Government.

The APPG’s inquiry aims to determine what should be contained in any such Code of Conduct, and how it should be enforced. It will also seek out and recommend other progressive and practical solutions that can help maximise the positives and mitigate the negatives of social media for young people.

The inquiry will be open to receive written and recorded evidence until 13 August 2018, with a number of oral evidence sessions to be held in Parliament in the autumn. The APPG hopes to engage with expert stakeholders including academics, charities, government officials, social media industry representatives, parents and young people themselves, in order to answer four broad questions:

  1. What is the latest evidence of the impact of social media on mental health and wellbeing?
  2. What constitutes a ‘healthy’ and beneficial relationship with social media for young people?
  3. What should be done by government and by the social media industry to address these issues?
  4. What solutions can be provided in terms of technological innovation and education?

Organisations and individuals interested in submitting evidence to the inquiry should download the Call for Evidence from the APPG website at

Health visitors at the frontline can provide feedback into this All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Inquiry into infant formula costs.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Infant Feeding has launched an inquiry on the costs of infant formula to families in the UK and the impact that the choice of infant formula, and the purchase of infant formula, is having on the health, well-being and financial situation of families.

The inquiry wants to hear stories from families themselves, from those that care and support pregnant women and families with infants and children, those who work with food redistribution or food banking projects, with faith groups supporting communities and anyone else who has information to share on how families choose a brand of infant formula and manage the costs of formula feeding.

Health visitors at the frontline will have seen and heard how this is impacting on families – and can provide feedback into the APPG Inquiry.

The inquiry wants to collect stories and information from the recent past that may be lived experience, reported by others to you or which has been collected as part of other work. The focus is on infant formula costs, choice of infant formula and the impact of this on the health, well-being and finances of formula feeding families.

The deadline for submissions is 26 June 2018.

Please do use this opportunity to provide your feedback to this inquiry – as it is an important opportunity to feed in HV experience of impact.

Please note:

The APPGIFI strongly believes that breastfeeding should be protected and promoted in the UK and that all women who wish to breastfeed should receive support to do so (as long as there is no medical reason to advise against it). This inquiry however focuses on UK families who use and purchase infant formula in the first year of their infant’s life, many of whom may exclusively formula feed for the majority of that time.